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Full text of "Reader Digest Feb 2013"

Osama bin 


Last Day 

Our Films 



KISS of Life 








You can stop this 


fast-growing national epidemic 


t *m 


with the World 

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Help for Overweight Children 

There's a standard sitcom line used by Western mothers 
to their reluctant brood at the dinner table, "Think of 
all the starving kids in India!" Studies reveal that India 
is still home to 42% of the world's undernourished 
children. Ironically, we also have a growing population 
of overfed, under-exercised fat ones — comprising nearly 
20% of all urban schoolchildren. Both groups risk 

major disease and shortened life-spans. So if your kids M 

are overweight, our cover story will help you set things right. 

In Odisha, I met a soft-spoken, 48-year-old Robin Hood of sorts. 
Achyuta Samanta (page 56) was once poor himself, but worked with a will 
and went on to establish massive private educational institutions where 
well-to-do students pay for themselves, and this helps educate thou- 
sands of poor tribals. Samanta is now taking his tribal school system to 
other states. Another story about success against all odds is that of chess 
champion Phiona Mutesi (page 72), who is still a little girl. It's people like 
Phiona and Samanta that make the heart of this magazine tick. 

Amid all the soul-searching, the explanations and opinions following 
the notorious December rape in Delhi, I thought one senior journalist, 
writing in The Times of India, made a sensible point. Swaminathan Aiyar 
wants us to look back at Indian films for answers to why our men harass 
women so blatantly. We reproduce that article (In My Opinion, page 43). 

The search for Osama bin Laden and his death in a Pakistani hideout is 
the subject of this month's Book Bonus. Equally thrilling is another 
intercontinental search (Real-Life Drama, page 124), about how a little 
boy lost from a Madhya Pradesh village was adopted in Australia 25 years 
ago. Research Director Padmavathi Subramanian worked with sources in 
MP and our Australian edition to verify every detail of how Saroo Brierley 
finally found his birth mother last year. And don't miss Bittu Sahgal 
(page 35), just back from Kerala with a new warning on Silent Valley. It 
looks like another storm is brewing. « » ^n •% 


2 READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d c r s d i g c st . c o . /' n 


A pp Store 

Visit www.indiatoday.in/apps for more info 

Terms & Conditions Apply 


February 2013 

Time to Stop 

48 Childhood Obesity* 

Ageneration of children risk 
major diseases, shivani maheshwari 

Achyuta Samanta's 
5 6 KISS of Life * 

an education and a bright future. 








-A .- 

Crazy in Love 

Three scientific truths about love, 


How to Write (and Read) 
a Love Letter 

The perfect note for your beloved. 


The Game of Her Life 

She's the ultimate underdog. 


- ~ ■ - ■■ ^- . 

Staying Alive 

Neuroscience is blurringthe 
boundary between life and death 


* - »~V 








Our Living Bridges 

These natural wonders are among 
India's great cultural secrets. 


The Essay That Rocked 
the Internet 

A career choice set off a firestorm. 


Your Body on Sugar 

The sweet stuff is bad foryou. 


Letter From a Free Man 

A former master gets a witty reply. 



The Google Search 

for My Amma 

Technology helped him get home. 



The Last Day of Osama 
bin Laden* 

The terrorist finally meets his end 








* * 






*On the cover 


Hanoi on the Go 

Exploring the sights and sounds of Vietnam 

■ v.\-^ .. 



READEMS DIGEST | = E B R U A R*20 1 3 re 









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Stay u pdated 
with the 

India Today App 

Download NOW! 




"-'lio-C . NOKIA A LsL. j VVHf:r,-,vsP : - 


Visit www.indiatoday.in/apps for more information 

Terms & Conditions Apply 

Taste buds 













Editor's Note 
Quotable Quotes 

React Letters from readers. 

Here & Now + Books 


Ask LaskaS Commonsense advice. 

Greenheart Bittu Sahgal discovers 
new threats to Silent Valley. 

Word Power 

My Story Stephen Fry traces his love 
affair with the written word. 

In My Opinion * Swaminathan Aiyar 
on howourcinema encourages the 
harassment of women. 

Heroes A Thai lady helps crippled 
animals get moving again. 

Outrageous! What our boys think 
about violence against women. 

Laughter the best medicine 
Humour in Uniform 

Look Twice A marbled flower of faith. 


Life's Like That 










147 Food 

149 You 

150 Health 
156 Home 

158 Tech 

159 Challenge 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a de r s d i ge s t . c o . in 
























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Head Office : New India Building, 87, M. G. Road, Fort Mumbal - 400 001 INDIA www.newindla.co.in 

Personal i Commercial Industrial Liability Social Credit Insurance 

Editor Mohan Sivanand 

Deputy Editor Krishna Warrier 

Research Director Padmavathi Subramanian 

Art Director Shirley Khaitan 

Research Editor & Magazine Coordinator Mamta Sharma 

Senior Designer Anto Tharakan 

Contributing Editors Aarti Narang, Deven Kanal, 

Snigdha Hasan, Aditya Sharma 


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Published in 50 editions and 21 languages, 
Reader's Digest is the world's largest-selling 
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Editor-in-Chief Aroon Purie 

Chief Executive Officer Ashish Bagga 




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languages, prohibited. Published & Printed by Ashish Bagga on behalf of Living Media India Limited. Editor: Mohan Sivanand. 

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Transforming Homes 

We can't all be 
heroes, because 
somebody has 
to sit on the 
kerb and clap 
as they go by. 

Will Rogers 

I wish the whole 
world could 
see what I see. 
Sometimes you 
have to go up really 
high to understand 
how small you really 

Felix Baumgartner, 
record-setting Austrian 


This is agood sign, 
having a broken heart. 
It means we have tried 
for something. 

Elizabeth Gilbert 

Don't aspire to make a 
living. Aspire to make a 

Denzel Washington, 


decided I can't pay a 
person to rewind 
time, so I may as 
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Serena Williams 

You can 

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Daniel Day-Lewis 



... a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears 
we never use. Charles m. Schulz 

... an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time, 
and sometimes you weep. carl Sandburg 

... a great big canvas, and you should throw al I 

the paint On it you Can. Danny Kaye 







READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 re a de rsdi ges t . c o . / n 


o I 

* * 


Delhi's Medicine Man 

Who says Santa Claus is not 
real? Omkar Nath [Delhi's 
One-Man Dispensary, Decem- 
ber] is a true-life Santa, distrib- 
uting the gift of relief to the 
needy throughout the year. 

Girija Arora, via RD Facebook 

The Malayalam poet Kumaran 
Asan said, "The wise make 
their life meaningful by making 
it useful to others." That's what 
I recalled when I read about 
Omkar Nath. 

K.P. Sasidharan Nayar, Alappuzha, Kerala 

Delhi's One-Man Dispensary 

This senior citizen's self-imposed task is to collect 
medicines for the needy 

JTVJ halftl} vU MM DHltMf Ux 

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uffran kun j «n whit k XUbH* 

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Most households would have extra 
unused medicines for different 
reasons. All of us must find ways to 
donate them to the needy. 

Niraj Mehta, Bharuch, Gujarat 

Scarcity teaches us the utility of 
things. Yet, people who can afford 
everything sometimes waste so 
much without considering how it 
may be useful for others. 

Ashish Trivedi, via e-mail 

Having moved from busy Delhi, 
I've wondered how I can be of 
service to others in my spare time. 
Omkar Nath has shown that all I 
need is the will to change things. 

Bindiya Gupta, Gandhinagar 

Exercise Alert 

I hope "Exercise! But Don't Let It 
Hurt You" [December] alerts fitness 
buffs and creates a regulatory 

authority. A 25-year-old man in my 
neighbourhood recently collapsed 
and died before he could be treated 
by doctors. His untrained trainer 
had ignored, even ridiculed, the 
serious chest pains this young man 
felt during and after exercise, saying 
it was only because of the muscles 
that were shaping up! 

Manoj Dave, Raipur 

Chanelling Anger 

Anger is not all bad [Why Anger 
Is Bad, December]. However, 
suppressed anger could lead to seri- 
ous physical and mental problems. 
Being angry helps get things done: 
We should be angry when those 


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who are weak are assaulted; when 
women are harassed; when a gov- 
ernment oppresses its people. Anger 
has been the seed of revolutions. 
However, we should not get angry 
for silly reasons or just a hurt ego. It 
is not the emotion called anger that 
is at fault. It is taking quick action in 
anger that makes anger a short-term 

S. Raghunatha Prabhu, Alappuzha, Kerala 

Mr Prabhu gets this month's Best 
Letter Prize. — Eds 

Cheeky Disclaimers 

Some disclaimers are downright 
hilarious [Quirks, December]. 
Appended below a story I read was: 
"Any resemblance of the characters 
in this story to persons living or 
dead, is just their bad luck." 

Rajeshwari Singh, New Delhi 

Our favourite disclaimer is from the 
1960s, when Air India used to give 
away to passengers a hilarious booklet 
titled "Foolishly Yours," by Bobby 
Kooka, which described all kinds of 
nutty airline passengers and staff The 
disclaimer ended thus: "... If among 
them you can spot friends or relatives, 
the responsibility and credit is entirely 
yours." Incidentally, Kooka also created 
Air India's Maharaja mascot. — Eds 

Death Penalty Debate 

Sparing murderers who deserve 
the death penalty is not maturity 
but misplaced sympathy [In My 
Opinion, December]. If all legal 

requirements have been fulfilled, the 
death penalty must be awarded. But 
if it is abolished even for the rarest 
of rare cases, the law will be found 
wanting! For every argument against 
the death penalty, there are equal, if 
not stronger ones for it. 

K.V. Jagctdheeschand, via e-mail 

We all heard of a brutal rape and 
murder in Delhi. Should the culprits 
be let off without harsh punishment? 
Discussions on abolishing capital 
punishment may only be philosophi- 
cally sound. 

Julian Christian, Junagadh, Gujarat 

The dear ones of innocent victims 
cannot take the law into their hands, 
which is why the State is empow- 
ered to exercise extreme punish- 
ments. This also saves more 
innocent people from the same 

Criminals. Paresh H. Baldaniya, via e-mail 

A death penalty will kill the crimi- 
nal, not the crime, since the same 
crime would be continued by others 

in Society. Nisarg Parmar, via e-mail 

Laws are scripted, passed, enforced, 
and interpreted by fallible human 
beings. Where there are chances of 
error, authorizing an act that is 
irrevocable is unjustifiable. Retribu- 
tion and deterrence should yield 
place to reformation in criminal 

jurisprudence. C. Divakaran, Trivandrum 

The Supreme Court should remain 
empowered to reduce a death 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a de r s d ige s t . c o . i n 




An inspirational drink that 
has become aspirational and 
a lifestyle beverage. 

Coffee can keep you alert 

and therefore helps you perform 

better and reduce the stress level 

offee in a measure, 

is a treasure. 

sentence to imprisonment for life, 
but with no relaxations or parole. 
Pardon, if any, should be solely at 
the discretion of the President, and 
not on the advice of politicians. 

V. Ramanathan, Rengasamudram,TN 

In some cases, capital punishment 
is the only option. Take the case of 
Masood Azhar. India set him free 
and he went on to form a terrorist 

Outfit. Siddharth Khadke, via e-mail 

No one from my family was hurt in 
the 26/11 incident in Mumbai, but I 
felt the pain and shock like everyone 
else. Would I have wished that 
Ajmal Kasab be hanged if one of my 
own had been killed by him? There 
is no easy answer, but I would have 
prayed to feel forgiveness in my 


Akhil Kishore, New Delhi 

Nehru's Legacy 

For me, Nehru's most important 
legacy [The Riddle of Pandit Nehru, 
November] was the idea and prac- 
tice of secularism. This marks him 
out from many of our present-day 


Peter Mundackal, New Delhi 

Panditj i's contribution to rural 
development remains his main 
legacy. He divided each district into 
blocks, with technocrats of various 
disciplines — including a medico, 
an agronomist, a veterinarian, an 
engineer and a block development 
officer. This scheme was not without 
blemish, but it has helped rural 

An Idea for Zoos 

Zoos are indeed prisons, as reader 
Brinda Upadhyaya points out [React, 
November]. We have no right to 
inflict a life of imprisonment, often in 
solitary confinement, on other spe- 
cies. Zoos could be converted into 
wildlife centres of a different kind 
with films and other educational 

devices. Purnima Lalit Kumar, via e-mail 

And How Did Inflation 
Get Thee? 

It would have been useful to also 
compare the price of Reader's 
Digest [How Inflation Gets You! 
December] over the years in your 
inflation series. 

Mohammad Iqbal, Srinagar 

Since 2007, the price ofRD is up 38% 
for annual subscribers (who comprise 
the vast majority of our readers) and 
50% for newsstand customers. This 
way, we too may earn our bread and 
butter... Modern bread loaf (up 50%), 
Amul butter (up 72%) since 2007. 


The author of the 
best letter, chosen 
by the editors, will 
receive a prize: The 
Reader's Digest book 
The Truth About 
History priced at 



H.S. Ponnuraj, Dharmapuri.TN 

^Post opinions to the Editorial address, 
Pore-mail: editor.india@rd.com 
(no attachments please). Include your 
phone number and address. Letters will 
be condensed and edited for clarity. 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 



For mcrt ■ ■— WW— SMS 
41NO«A« SW HO to $6577 


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Sector 30, N H 8, Gurgaon 122 001, Haryana. 

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The Ostrich Pillow 

Clever lateral thinking or "You've got to 
be kidding me"? That depends on how 
hard you find itto nod off in public 
and how muchyou care about 
being stared at whileyou do so. 
Originating on the crowd-funding 
website kickstarter.com (where I 
its inventors sought $70,000 and j 
raised $1 95,000), the Ostrich I 

Pillow is a soft, padded hood that 
creates a "micro-environment" to 
enable "power napping." 

The creation of Spanish and 
Swiss architecture and design studio ^ 
kawamura-ganjavian,the invention ^B 

costs $97 — that's ^5300, as much as a 
night in a comfortable hotel — although 
you do get to re-use it, provided you can 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 

Jlte Irieesl 

coifiree irroiM 





Preeenllag Bra r.xotlra (maternal* - a gourmri collie 

munm lro« Ike breaLhlalclag lfui<ur*p«tf of vj aalemal* a 

Antigua region. TLe volcanic region nai ike idr»l eJlilaJe 

• nd conslttrat dim air, wkich help »n producing coffee 

that makes Ibe re*t of tke world envious. IhU mild blend 

U blessed wilk * •IlgLlU •wrrl *t flowery fl-vour wltk ft 

hint of rpioe. kvery cup will lei yoa discover * svbUe, 

lingering aroma taat'i tmpoMlblr lo resltt. 




Extreme pogoing 

From its beginnings around 2002 
with thrill-seekers performing 
backflips in parking lots to being 
featured in sports goods commer- 
cials, extreme pogoing has already 
come a long way. The specially- 
made sticks bear little resemblance 
to the T-shaped bouncy pogo-sticks 
of childhood. They feature "air 
springs," thrusters and aerospace 
aluminium. Guinness World Records 
has added "Highest Jump" and 
"Highest Forward Flip" pogo 
categories and at least one athlete, 
American Fred Grzybowski, has 
turned professional, taking the ups 
and downs of his chosen career in 
his stride. 

— 'IT- 


A fixed-wheel bicycle, which 
cannot freewheel and effectively 
has one gear. For reasons that 
encompass a nostalgic 
irony and a desire to be 
different in a same-as- 
all-your-f riends way, 
fixies are the bicycle 







READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readcrsdigest.co.in 

Did you know... 

aastu corrections can be done 


What id Vaastu? 

Vaastu is an ancient Indian science of architecture and buildings which 
helps in making a congenial setting or a place to live and work in a 
most scientific way taking advantage of nature, its elements and energy 
fields for enhanced wealth, health, prosperity and happiness. 

Benefits of Vaastu 

It is beneficial as it is a bridge between man, material and nature and 
above all it is practical. Build your house according to the guidelines 
provided by vaastu and lead a healthy and happy life. 

Vaastu corrections and modem living 
In this jet-age we are living In ready flats, offices and houses. Also 
with all modem style and facilities. So, to break a wall or shift a room 
physically according to traditional Vaslu is nearly impossible. Still you 
want the benefits of Vastu, what do you do? 

Revolutionary Solution - Pyramid Vaastu! 

Here comes a practical and result oriented method - PyraVastu? 
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power up 



Kudos to the scientists at the Swedish 
Royal Institute of Technology who, 
through fuel cell pioneering company 
myFC, have developed a way of 
recharging mobile phones using 
only a tablespoon of water. The 
PowerTrekk is a potential lifesaver for 
people lost in the wilderness, or who 
have lost power due to wild weather. 
It works by converting hydrogen 
(the H in H z O) into electricity via a 
"Proton Exchange Membrane." The 
only by-product is a little water vapour 
and it connects to the phone via a USB 

port. It's not cheap at €200 (^14,480), 
but it is a very clever solution to 
a small-scale energy crisis. 

I I 

Watery wattage: 
harger that runs 
on liquids. 




Putting aside the implied social 

messages and looking purely at the 

esthetics, Valeria Lukyanova is a little 

creepy. Fascinating, sure, but in a 

very unsettling way. The Ukrainian 

model's claim to fame is how closely 

she resembles a life-sized Barbie doll, 

glazed eyes, 


skin and all. 


surgeons are 



of her 


that features 

such as her 18-inch (46cm) waist have 

been achieved through "raw food." 

With more than 500,000 "likes" 

on Facebook, Lukyanova is one of the 

best known of the self-styled "human 

dolls," leading agroup which includes 

compatriot Anastasiya Shpagina, who 

mimics a Japanese animation heroine. 

Time to grow up, ladies. 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r S d i g e s t . c o . i n 

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Lemons, flowers 
and snow 

Great events worldwide, this month 


Lemon Festival: Menton, France 

Giant sculptures made of citrus fruit like this snail and floats requiring more than 127 
tonnes of oranges and lemons — that's Menton on the Cote d'Azur when spring is near. 
From February 16 to March 6 the town bursts into a riot of colours for a huge citrus- 
scented celebration. You can also try the fruit so come and get your fix of vitamin C. 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 re ad e rsd ige st. co .1 n 








LU — 




CL Q. 


— V 


© O 

< .. 


C£ LU 







in id 






Q. CO 

Almond Blossom: 
Isle of Mallorca, Spain 

What a spectacular sight! In 
February the island is transformed 
into a sea of blossoms. More than 
four million almond trees are bursting 
into bloom and frame the still icy 
mountain tops. 

Pfi\,#K* ff 








Winter Market: 
Jokkmokk, Sweden 

Do you fancy a reindeer sledge tour? Or 
would you like to experience true Sami 
culture, handicraft and music? Then this 
winter market that dates back more than 
400 years in Swedish Lappland is a must. 
Dates to remember: February 7 to 9. 

Basel, Switzerland 

Admittedly, you have to get up really 
early on February 18 to join the unique 
morning parade that marks the begin- 
ning of the Basel carnival. As the clock 
strikes 4am, thousands of fifers and 
drummers in colourful costumes, with 
masks and fabulously painted lanterns 
start moving through the dark city 
centre until daylight sets in. 

Alpine Ski World Champion 
ships: Schladming, Austria 

Some 650 world-class athletes from 
70 nations will compete cheered by 
famous spectators such as Arnold 
Schwarzenegger and Kevin Costner. 
If you love alpine skiing why not join 
them from February 4 to 17? 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge s t . c o . / n 






Even in a golden age for 
illustrated children's 
books, Louise Yates stands 
out as a superb artist and 
storyteller. Her latest 
Dog Loves Drawing is 
about a dog who's given a 
sketchbook. His drawings 
not only come to life, 
but also start drawing 
themselves! You'll be 
able to read it aloud any 
number of times without 
going nuts. 


I love Julia Donaldson 
and Axel Scheff ler's 
books, and the new one 
from the creators of The 
Gruffalo is Superworm — 
very funny, very inventive 
and with the added 
advantage of being in 

A reissue I can't resist 
adding is Rumbelow's 

Dance by John Yeoman 
with illustrations by 
Quentin Blake at his 
glorious best. Rumbelow 
pays a visit to his grand- 
parents and on the way 
encounters a whole range 
of characters: a sad-faced 
farmer, a pig, a poultry- 
boy, a peg-lady ...you get 
the idea. One of those list 
books that children 
absolutely love. 


eagerly await any new 
book from David Almond, 
the author of Skellig, 
and this recent offering 
The Boy Who Swam with 
Piranhas does not 

Stanley Potts's Uncle 
Ernie is made redundant 
from the local shipyards 
and starts a fish cannery. 
Little by little, Ernie 
goes mad, and this tale 
uncanny becomes a 
circus adventure. Stanley 
then finds himself 
apprenticed to a man who 
swims with piranhas and 
as he plunges underwater 

he discovers ...well, 
himself. It's a beautiful 
story. They say it's for 
eight-year-olds, but I'm a 
bit older than that and 
loved it. 




»*■£ PAVER 

Whether or not you 
enjoyed Michelle Paver's 
cult fantasy-book Wolf 
Brother, you' 1 1 love her 
Gods and Warriors, the 
first in a new series for 
young adults. Set in the 
Bronze Age Mediterra- 
nean among mysterious 
goddesses, spooky 
fighters and a dolphin 
called Spirit, it has a 
compelling narrative and 
a well-evoked world. 


For grown-ups, the 
ultimate holiday treat will 
surely be Counting One's 
Blessings: The Selected 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e s t . c o . i n 

Letters of Queen 


the Shadow of Death by 

Elizabeth the Queen 

Peter James's thrillers, set 

James Runcie, a collection 

Mother edited by William 

in Brighton with the 

of longish short stories 

Shawcross. Whether she's 

detective Roy Grace, have 

about a clergyman-detec- 

writing about politics to 
her mother-in-law Queen 

already attracted a 
massive following. The 

tive in the 1950s and 
beyond, is much gentler. 

Mary, or about fishing and 
poetry to Ted Hughes, she 
always sparkled. What a 
tonic she was— and 

latest Not Dead Yet will 
have you hooked from 
page one. It's about an 
international pop star 

Beautiful lye rafted, 
these tales are perfectly 
placed to become comfort 
viewingon Sunday 

remains. This book will 
revive you from any reces- 

turned actress, rather in 
the Madonna mould — a 

evenings. But enjoy 
them as literature first. 

sion blues. However dark 

Brighton, UK, girl who 

1 have become an 

the skies, she retains her 

returns to her birthplace 

addict of Andrew Martin's 

sunny, P.G. Wodehouse- 

novels starring Jim 
Stringer, the sacked 
Edwardian fireman 

ish joy. 


If you want something 

royal, but a bit more 
bracing, try Jane Ridley's 
coruscating Bertie: a Life 

\ SfiacfoaJ"! 1 1 
L Deat/i j 

turned railway policeman 
based in York. The 
Baghdad Railway Club, 

of Edward VII. No one 

takes Stringer to 

emerges unscathed by the 


Mesopotamia during 
World War Lit has all the 
railway detail that's the 

author's wit and disap- 

proval. She reserves her 

harshest words for 

to make a film about the 

hallmark of the series, but 

Bertie's mother Queen 

love life of George IV and 

it's also a superbly crafted 

Victoria, but the famous 
roue prince doesn't always 

Mrs Fitzherbert. Even 
before her plane has 

spy story. 

emerge in a very dignified 
light from his innumerable 
scandals and scrapes. 
Ridley has spentyears 
researchingthis book in 

touched down, the dodgy 
characters have started 
to surface, from men 
creepily obsessed with 
her, to those nursing 

I1A< >1 

the Windsor archives, but 

grudges. Not for those of 

^^ ■ j^l " 

the narrative is as fresh as 

a nervous disposition. 

'1*1 SB 

a comic novel. 

Sidney Chambers and 

ilU, *Lr 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e s t . c o . i n 




"I didn't mind that his valentine was an e-card. 
The big letdown was getting the box ofe-chocolates. 


To show his appreciation, a 
newly hired Japanese office 
worker bought his boss chocolates. 
But when he found the box un- 
opened, the worker felt insulted and 
went ballistic, destroying 22 com- 
puters. "I wish his boss had cared a 
little more," the employee's 
lawyer said. ^^km 

From the internet 

While working 

at the social 
security office, 
I helped an 
elderly wom- 
an — who was 


topic for my 

third-standard kids was 

genetics. Smiling broadly, 

I pointed to my dimples and 

asked, "What trait do you think 

I passed on to my children?" 

One student called out, "Wrinkles! 

Lynn Gragg 

no longer married — fill out 
her claim form. 

Reading off a question, 
I asked, "How did your 
marriage end?" 

"Just fine," she said, grin- 
ning a little too broadly. 
"He died." wans Bird 

The high school was using 
our church's recreation 
centre for its annual spring 
banquet. Since we wanted 
to keep the teenagers con- 
fined to the gym and out 
of the main building, some- 
one suggested posting a 
Do Not Enter sign on the 
door. I knew that wouldn't 
work, so I put up another sign that 
did the job. It read: Prayer Room. 

Bill Denham 

I ran a store in a small town and 
often took calls from remote areas 
asking me to deliver food and other 
goods to them. On one occasion, I 

was asked to send a toothbrush. 
^ ^ "Do you want an expen- 

sive or a cheap one?" 

I asked. 
L, "Make it a good 
K. one," was the 
reply. "There 
^^r arc five of us 
out here." 

Jack Gentle 












READER'S digest FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 



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Managers of golf courses have to 
watch out for errant drives, as well 
as errant phone calls from custom- 
ers like these: 

Staff: Golf course. May I help you? 
Caller: What are your green fees? 
Staff: Thirty-eight dollars. 
Caller: Does that include golf? 

Staff: Golf course. May I help you? 
Caller: Yes. I need to get some 
information from you. First, is this 
your correct phone number? 

Staff: Golf course. May I help you? 
Caller: My kids just came home with 
range balls and said they stole them 
from your driving range. Would you 
like to buy them back? 

Staff: Golf course. May I help you? 
Caller: Yes, we have a tee time for 
two weeks from Friday. What's the 
weather going to be like that day? 

Ed Thompson 

Adding a funny hat to your pyjamas 
at home = weird. 

Adding a funny hat to your 
pyjamas at work = chef. 

Comedian Julieanne Smolinski 

While reviewing maths symbols 
with my students, I drew a greater- 
than (>) and a less than (<) sign on 
the whiteboard. 

"Does anyone know what these 
mean?" I asked. 

A boy raised his hand: "One 

means fast-forward, and the other 
means rewind." Peggy Horachek 

My Dog Ate My Alarm Clock 

Sixteen percent of employees are 
habitually late to work. Here are 
some of their lamest excuses: 

■ Because of a job interview with 
another firm. 

■ Bus was delayed (employee also 
produced a note signed by the 

■ Hair was hurting employee's head. 

■ Employee thought she'd won 
the lottery (she hadn't). 

From careerbuilder.com 


Looking for that perfect Valentine's 
Day present? Nothing says "go" like 
this beautiful beaded necklace and 
matching earrings. From etsy.com 

^Get paid! Your anecdote is worth ?iooo 
FPost it to the Editorial address or 
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READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 read ersd igest . CO. i n 









► I hate having my picture 
taken. People always make 
me feel as though I'm in the 
wrong if I refuse to pose or get 
in a group photo. These shots 
always end up on social net- 
working sites with no regard 
for people's feelings or privacy. 
How do I explain that I don't 
want my picture, or my baby's 
for that matter, to be taken and 

pOSted Online? Camera Shy 

Dear Shy, 

I'm with you: I don't want my next 
bad hair day documented for the 
world to see, and I cringe if I see 
one of my kids on some other mom's 
Facebook birthday slide show. The 
best you and I and like-minded 
people can do is encourage others to 
join us in formulating some ethical 
boundaries for photos and tagging 
on social networking sites. No means 
no. It's your image, and you should 
get to decide if you want it repro- 
duced. So go ahead and tell people, 
but don't be naive: Photos will be 

Jeanne Marie Laskas is not a shrink, but she 
does have uncommon sense. 


snapped and posted; you will be in 
some of them. If you don't want to be 
seen doing something stupid, don't 
do something stupid. 

► My family lives in the country, 
and we've never had neighbours until 
recently, when a new family built a 
place adjacent to ours. Now our kids 
play together constantly, and we get 
together several nights a week. My 
wife and I enjoy the other couple's 
company, but the husband sometimes 
makes disrespectful comments about 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 read e rs d i ge s t . c o . i n 


his wife and kids. His remarks often 
cause them to fight in front of us. I 
feel I should talk to him about it, 
but he's a very "king of his castle" 
kind of guy, and I don't want to ruin 
the relationship our families are 
developing. What can I do? 

Conflicted Countryman 

Dear Conflicted, 

What are the rules of your house? 
Do you allow your kids to beat each 
other up? Do you scream and call 
them stupid? Of course not. You have 

Life's Little Etiquette 

► During a recent stay at my place, 
my cousin and his wife would con- 
sult each other in Spanish before 
delivering a response to my ques- 
tions. English is his first language 
and her second; they're both fluent 
in each language. I have no problem 
with someone who needs help 
translating, but that's not the case 
here. I think it's inappropriate that 
they speak in Spanish so I won't 
know what's being said. Am I being 
too sensitive? Would it be rude to 
say something to them? 

No, you would not be rude. Lapsing into 
another language to have a private 
word with someone is no different from 
whisperingto another behind a shield- 
ing hand. This might just be a habit that 
has nothing to do with you, so give the 
Spanish speakers the benefit of the 
doubt: Smile and say, "English, please." 

a civil home, and such actions are not 
tolerated. Why cut Mr Disrespectful 
any slack? Your house, your rules. 
You can do this gently. He insults 
his wife or kids under your roof, 
you say, "Pal, we don't talk like that 
here." If he does it again, you say it 
again. (Your only choice when visit- 
ing his house is to leave.) Keep in 
mind that your social life is second- 
ary to your role as a parent, and this 
is a critical message for your kids to 
get: Dad stands up to bullies because 
bullying is wrong. 

► One of my coworkers knows I go 
to the gym, so she asked me which 
exercises would help some aches and 
pains she's been having. I was sur- 
prised by her questions because her 
health problems stem from the fact that 
she's almost 20 kilos overweight. 
Should I have risked offending her by 
telling her she needed to lose weight? 

Exercise Nut 

Dear Exercise, 

You think she doesn't know she 
needs to lose weight? You think 
pointing this out will somehow 
make her see the light? Resist the 
urge to become the obnoxious office 
health nut. Your office mate has 
turned to you for help, and good 
for her. Tell her you're no expert, 
and suggest a trainer for a consul- 
tation. (Remind her, too, that your 
exercise plan began with a visit to 
the doctor.) Let the pros take it from 
there. Your job is to be a supportive 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a de r s d i ge s t . c o . in 


Warning! New Threats to 






Silent valley 

he whistle woke me in the 
gentlest imaginable way. 
Still in bed, peering out of 
the window, I could see nothing. 
It was dark, but the Malabar 
Whistling Thrush was persistent 
and within two minutes of its 
melodious soliloquy wafting 
through my window, the bird had 
me scrambling for a windcheater, 
binoculars and my old trusty 
Nikon. A brisk wind, bearing ever- 
green forest scents, left me feeling 
alive and full of hope as I climbed 
the 30-metre-tall watchtower and 
waited for the sun to rise and 
shine above Silent Valley's 
Attappady range. All around me 
the earth was as it should be. 

Bittu Sahgal is Editor of Sanctuary Asia magazine 
and a member of the National Board for Wildlife. 

Vibrant. Exquisite. Green. Alive! 

I had walked the forests of the 
Sathyamangalam and Dimbam, to 
the northwest, while on patrol 
some years ago with Sanjay Arora, 
the superintendent of police who 
helped hunt down Veerappan, the 
infamous brigand, elephant 
poacher and sandalwood smuggler. 
As the sky lightened, vast canopies 
revealed themselves to me. To the 
north was Mukurthi and I could 
visualize elephants moving along 
its hidden trails between the 
wonderland of Silent Valley where 
I stood, all the way to Nagarhole 
and Bandipur. 

I was on a pilgrimage of sorts in 
Sairandhri, the very heart of the 
Silent Valley National Park, an 
unparalleled Western Ghats 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 re ad e rs d i g e s t . c O . / n 

biodiversity vault. Like scores of 
others, I had played a small role in 
supporting the heroes who fought 
the epic Silent Valley battle, but 
had never once walked the mud 
trails of this natural wonderland 
till now. 

Back in 1973, the Kerala State 
Electricity Board wanted to 
construct a 120-megawatt hydroe- 
lectric project at the very spot 
where I stood, across the beautiful 
Kunthipuzha river. Back then few 
people had even heard of Silent 
Valley, but mercifully some very 
dedicated scientists and active 
members of the Kerala Sasthra 
Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) fought a 
hard battle against the destruction 
of this fragile biodiversity hotspot. 

Youngsters who now fight for a 
natural India would do well to look 
up names of scientists such as 
Dr Sathish Chandran Nair, Dr VS. 
Vijayan, Dr M.S. Swaminathan and 
Dr M.K. Prasad, who stimulated 
people to think, and poets of the 
calibre of Sugathakumari, who lit 
fires in innumerable hearts. The 
battle was enjoined by thousands 
including members of the Bombay 
Natural History Society, led by 
that grand old man of Indian 
ornithology, Dr Salim Ali, won 
over Prime Minister Indira 
Gandhi, who called a halt to the 
project that would have drowned 
the home of, among other species, 
the threatened lion-tailed 
macaque, an endemic Western 
Ghats rainforest primate that 

became the mascot for the battle 
to save Silent Valley. 

Over four days I walked 30 
kilometres through Silent Valley's 
trails in the company of butterflies 
and birds, exploring the tick and 
leech surrounds of the Bhavani 
and Kunthipuzha rivers, hungry to 
be where elephants, tigers, lion- 
tailed macaques, Nilgiri langurs 
and Malabar giant squirrels thrive. 
Moving about with a Keralite who 
knows and loves the valley deeply, 
my spirit lifted with every tired 
step as I celebrated the fact that 
four decades after the battle was 
launched, Silent Valley victory was 
still safe. 

But it looks like the war isn't 

Speaking with locals I discov- 
ered that new threats had 
emerged: The Pathrakkadavu 
Hydroelectric Project (PHEP) on 
the Kunthipuzha, just outside 
Silent Valley. This will amputate 
forest continuity. Commercial 
coffee plantations are also looking 
to usurp lands abutting the park. 
New roads are contemplated. 

New battles are in the making, 
large and small. And each one 
must be fought, if Silent Valley is 
to live. That is what Sugathaku- 
mari's Malayalam poem Hemo- 
philia underscores: 

"Even the tiniest wound 

starts to bleed, 

and blood flows relentlessly 

unceasing, unclotting 

draining away one's life..." 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e ad e rs d i ge s t . c o . i n 













111 ShOrt In recognition of February, the shortest 
month, we celebrate all things diminutive. Zip through 
this quiz in short order. 
Answers on the next page. 

i. transient ('tran- 

shee-nt or -zee-ent) 
adj. — A: short-range. 
B: short-handed. 
C: short-lived. 

2. vignette (vin-'yet) 
n. — A: small glass. 

B: short literary sketch 
or scene. C: thin line. 

3. bagatelle (ba-geh-'tel) 
n. — A: child's rucksack. 
B: cell nucleus. C: some- 
thing of little value. 

4. scintilla (sin- ti-luh) 
n — A: short vowel. 

B: minute amount. 
C: minor crime. 

5. myopic (miy-'oh-pik) 
adj. — A: too tiny for 
the naked eye. B: short- 
sighted. C: early. 

6. irascible (i-'ra-se-bul) 

adj. — A: small-minded. 
B: narrow-waisted. 
C: marked by a short 

7. expeditiously 

adv. — A: promptly 
and efficiently. 
B: incompletely. 
C: tersely or rudely. 

8. tabard Ota-bird) 
n. — A: short-sleeved 
coat. B: booklet of 
verses. C: dwarf 

9. arietta (ar-ee- f eh-tuh) 
n. — A: tot's playpen. 

B: miniature figurine. 
C: short melody. 

10. niggling Onih-ge- 
hling) adj. — A: petty. B: 
stunted. C: short-winded. 


Micro is a prefix for little things, as in phones, scopes, 
and chips. It comes from the Greek mikros, for 
"small, short" (also related: mica, the rock whose 
tiny pieces flake off). Mini is another prefix, as in 
vans, cams, and skirts. It's related to the Latin min-, 
for "smallness," which gives us minor and minus. 
And... ever worn a micro-mini? 

11. aphorism Oa-feh-ri- 
zuhm) n. — A: concise 
saying. B: shorthand 
writing. C: cut-off 

12. staccato (ste-'kah- 
toh) adj. — A: of ce- 
mented fragments. 

B: formed into droplets. 
C: disconnected. 

13. nib ('nib ) n. — 

A: crumb on a plate. 
B: point of a pen. 
C: matter of seconds. 

14. exiguous (ig-'zi-gye- 
wes) adj. — A: inadequate, 
scanty. B: momentary. 

C: reduced by one 

15. truncate Ctrun-kayt) 
v. — A: compress by 
squeezing. B: speed up. 
C: shorten by lopping off. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e ad e r s d /' g e s t . c o . i n 



i. transient — [C] short-lived. 
The half-time lead proved 
transient, as the football 
team racked up four goals 
after the break. 

2. vignette — [B] short 
literary sketch or scene. 
Dickens created char- 
acters from prose vi- 
gnettes like little 

3. bagatelle— [C] , 
something of little 
value. My stories 
aren't prized works, 
just personal bagatelles. 

4. scintilla — [B] minute 
amount. There's not 

one scintilla of evidence 
against my client. 

5. myopic — [B] short- 
sighted. Sridhar's myopic view of the 
project surely led to its collapse. 

6. irascible— [C] marked by a short 
temper. If Jai were any more irascible, 
he'd have smoke coming out his ears. 

7. expeditiously — [A] promptly and 
efficiently. As a pick-me-up, a triple 



The Merriam-Webster dictionary 
says either: "Feb-yoo-ary" (com- 
monly heard in the US) and the 
seemingly more precise "Feb-roo- 
ary" are both correct (the dictionary 
lists the "yoo" version first, in fact). 
The loss of the "r" is by a process 
called dissimilation, when a speaker 
changes or omits one of two identi- 
cal or closely related sounds. 

espresso works expeditiously. 

8. tabard— [A] short-sleeved 
coat. My entire Hamlet cos- 
tume consists of a wooden 
sword and this tabard. 

9. arietta— [C] short melody. 
The goldfinch trilled an 

arietta, reminding us 
that spring would 
come soon. 

10. niggling— [A] 

petty. Mom, you're 
driving me bonkers 
with your niggling 

11. aphorism — [A] 

concise saying. My father 
has an aphorism for any 

12. staccato — [C] discon- 
nected. Maansi's hilarious 
laugh comes in sharp, staccato barks. 

13. nib — [B] point of a pen. A faulty 
nib, Arpana complained, ruined her 
score at her final drawing test. 

14. exiguous — [A] inadequate, scanty. 
Ever a big eater, Rohan found even the 
jumbo burger a bit exiguous. 

15. truncate — [C] shorten by lopping 
off. According to mythology, the 
gruesome Procrustes would truncate 
his guests if they were too long for 
the bed. 


• 9 and below: Came up short 

• 10-12: Short and sweet 

• 13-15: Made short work of it 


To play an interactive version 
of Word Power on your iPad or 
Kindle Fire, download the 
Reader's Digest app. 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a de r s d ige s t . c o . i n 




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'Have You Heard of 

Oscar Wilde?' 

A modern-day poet, actor, author and playwright 
recalls the humble beginnings of his love affair 
with the written word 


grew up in the English country- 
side. The nearest major library 

was a 20km bicycle ride into the 
city of Norwich. Every other 

Thursday, a mobile library would 
park five minutes' walk from our 
house. This was my lifeline to the 
outside world. A quaint battleship- 
grey modem that linked me to the 
huge past and present that seemed 
so impossibly far from the lanes of 
my village. 

Aged 11, one Saturday afternoon I 
sat in front of our little black-and- 
white television set and watched a 
film called The Importance of Being 
Earnest. It left me simply boggling 
with excitement. 

I had never heard language used 
in such a way, never known the 
rhythms of a sentence could be so 
beautiful, that meanings could turn 

with such wit on the hinge of a 
"but" or an "unless." I remembered 
whole lines of dialogue and re- 
peated them. I watched the credits 
roll by and memorized a name. 

The following Thursday I ran to 
the corner of the lane and threw 
myself inside the mobile library. 
"Have you heard of Oscar Wilde?" I 
squealed to the cardiganed librarian 
"Do you have a play he wrote called 
The Importance of Being Earnest?" 

After what seemed an age we 
found a copy, which was duly 
stamped. I ran home and into my 

I read The Importance of Being 
Earnest three or four times a day 
every day for two weeks. Then I 
returned it. I knew the play off by 
heart and can still distress compan- 
ions with long quotations from it. 












READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge st . c o . i n 

"What else do you have by Oscar 
Wilde?" I wanted to know. It was a 
different librarian and she found 
me a copy of the Complete Works. 

Two weeks later I was back to 
have it re-stamped. I had read it 
cover to cover, but I wanted to read 
it all again and again. 

Another Library Thursday came 
and I reluctantly returned the 
Complete Works and asked if there 
was anything else by Oscar Wilde. 
"The Complete Works means the 
complete works," the librarian 

"But there must be something 

The librarian looked ^^^^^^ 
me up and down. She 
walked along the 
central corridor of the 
van and stooped low in 
the biography section. 
Her face was flushed 
as she straightened 
and placed a book into 
my hands. "I really 
don't know if ... how 
old are you?" 

"Thirteen," I lied. 

The book was The 
Trials of Oscar Wilde. 
It was written by 
someone called 
H. Montgomery Hyde. 

It changed my life. 
The heroic lord of 
language who had 
captivated me so 
entirely turned out to 
have had a secret life. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.it) 

And the more I read the faster my 
heart beat. For I knew that I shared 
the same secret. I had never quite 
dared tell myself this truth but 
reading of Wilde's arrest and trial 
I could not but know it to be true. 

It was shattering, terrible, liber- 
ating, stimulating, appalling, won- 
derful and incredible all at once. 

The mobile library a fortnight 
later had nothing more to offer so 
the following morning I caught a 
little motor coach early in the 
morning and went to Norwich 
City's great library. 

It was here that I discovered how 
one book could lead to another. 



Bibliographies and footnotes 
suggested new names, new books, 
new writers, whole new areas to be 
discovered. It was an analogue, 
card-indexed way of mouse-clicking 
from one link to another. A little 
more laborious perhaps, but breath- 
lessly exciting. 

Over the next few years the trial 
and trail of Oscar led me to read 
Gide and Genet, Auden and Orton, 
Norman Douglas and Ronald 
Firbank. I read of man-love, boy- 
love and free love. 

For a gay youth growing up in 
the early 1970s, a library was a way 
of showing I was not alone. There 
was an element of breathtaking 
possibility, even the chance of a 
fumbled encounter, but there was 
vindication too. Some of the best, 
finest, truest, cleverest minds that 
ever held a pen in their hands had 
been like me. 

This caused me to educate myself 
to a degree which was beyond any- 
thing a school could hope to achieve. 
My own appetite for knowledge and 
reading had led me, and that is how 
education works. Between the ages 
of 12 and 14, 1 read hundreds and 
hundreds of books, but more impor- 
tantly I became unafraid of reading. 
Great writers were to be embraced 
and befriended. Even if their names 
were terrifyingly foreign and intel- 
lectual-sounding, Dostoevsky, 
Baudelaire or Cavafy, they turned out 
to be charming and wonderful and 
quite unalarming after all. 

By the time I was 14 1 knew 
that being gay was a kind of dark 
blessing, an awful privilege and I 
knew that, as Oscar once wrote on 
a photograph to an admirer, "The 
secret of life is in art." 

Without libraries none of this 
would have been possible. 



Some people obviously find it hard to chill out, even on holiday — as 
reader Marilyn Martin found out. She kept a note of the most bizarre 
complaints she received while working on villa-maintenance reports 
in Spain. 

"I want the weather vane taken off the roof. It moves around when I'm 
sunbathing and annoys me." 

"Please send someone round to change the lounge curtains. My wife 
can't stand them." [A phone call from a man whose wife could be heard 
sobbing noisily in the background.] 

'The beam from the lighthouse shines into our bedroom and disturbs 
my sleep. Kindly get them to turn the light off at night." 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 



Our Films Sanctify Pestering 
and Stalking of Women 

Item numbers and rape scenes aren't the main prob- 
lem, "eve-teasing" heroes and simpering heroines are 

from The Times of India 

he ghastly assault and rape of 
a female paramedic in Delhi 
has produced an avalanche 
of protest and comment on why we 
treat women so badly. But a major 
cause, the film industry, has hardly 
been mentioned. It has fostered 
thoroughly retrograde male 
attitudes that are at least partly 
responsible. Some feminists focus 
on the commodification of women 
in Bollywood's "item numbers," 
sex-laden dances by Isha Kop- 
pikar, Mallika Sherawat and others. 
Others highlight the popularity of 
rape scenes to titillate audiences. 
Old-time villain Ranjeet did close to 
100 rape scenes, with the audience 
almost cheering him on. 

Yet item numbers and rape scenes 
are not the main problem. After all, 
cabaret dancers and villains are not 

Swaminathan S.A. Aiyar, 70, is consulting editor 
of The Economic Times and a noted columnist. 

role models. What's truly terrible 
is the manner in which film heroes 
have for decades pestered, stalked 
and forced their unwanted atten- 
tions on heroines in a thousand 
films, yet ended up getting the girl. 
That sends the most outrageous of 
all messages to the public: pestering 
girls is what heroes do, and a girl's 
"no" actually means "yes." 

Hit film songs that glorify harass- 
ment and stalking have compounded 
the problem. These are perpetu- 
ated in memory and social attitudes 
through repeated humming of the 
songs and viewing of video clips. 

Dev Anand was the great roman- 
tic lover of my youth. We watched 
him serenade Nalini Jaywant in the 
film Munimji ("Jeevan ke safar mein 
rahi"), while pawing and pestering 
her. His role was equally obstreper- 
ous with Nutan in the film Paying 
Guest, with the hit song "Mana 

reader's digest February 2013 rea de rsdiges t. co. in 


"Listen to me lady! Now you run round 
tree while he climbs down. And then let 

gently chase you again!" 


janab ne pukara nahin." The song's 
words frankly admit that although 
he is not welcome at all, he must 
insist on gaily forcing his attentions 
on her. For decades audiences sang 
these songs, barely conscious of the 
sordid values they implied. 

Raj Kapoor couldn't be far behind. 
In his opus Sangam he sang a 
megahit while pestering a bathing 
Vyjayanthimala: "Mere man ki 
Ganga, aur tere man ki Jamuna 
ka, bol Radha bol sangam hoga ke 
nahin." As justification for this 
boorishness, he stuck a feather in 
his hair in imitation of Lord Krishna, 
who also harassed bathing gopis. 
Whereas Krishna played on the 
flute, Raj Kapoor played on Scot- 
tish bagpipes, a variation difficult to 
explain except as a side-effect of the 
actor's fondness for Scotch whisky. 

Amitabh Bachchan 
strode the Bollywood 
scene like a colossus. 
Of all the characters 
he played, the biggest 
contribution to female 
degradation was in the 
film Hum. In this, he 
and a gang of maybe 300 
leering males demand a 
kiss from actress Kimi 
Katkar — the hit song 
"Jumma chumma dede." 
Katkar sings back that 
she will not give a kiss. 
The male leerers insist 
on a kiss and douse 
her with a hosepipe. 
Ultimately, after several refusals, 
the song ends with Bachchan finally 
getting his kiss. He emerges grin- 
ning from the melee with lipstick 
smeared across his face. There could 
hardly be a more graphic message: 
if only you harass a woman enough, 
no matter how often she says no, she 
will ultimately say yes. 

The greatest Hindi film of all time 
was probably Sholay. This had Dhar- 
mendra giving one more version of 
how to win a girl. He jumps on the 
tonga [horse carriage] of tongawali 
Hema Malini, serenading her and 
grabbing her from behind. She fights 
him off, knocking him off the tonga. 
But he once again climbs aboard and 
continues with his musical harass- 
ment. The song goes, "Koi hasina jab 
rooth jaati hai to, aur bhi hasin ho 
jaati hai." (translation: when a beau- 














READER'S digest FEBRUARY 2013 reac/e rsd igest.co.in 

tiful girl gets pissed off with you, 
she becomes even more beautiful). 
Does he go to jail for this behaviour? 
Alas no, she falls into his arms! 
Great are the rewards of harassment. 

I don't see films in other Indian 
languages. Some say they are even 
cruder, so let's not blame Bollywood 
alone. I'm told such crudity doesn't 
happen in big Bollywood films 
any more. Really? I saw Rockstar, 
in which Ranbir Kapoor forces his 
attentions on a girl, who initially 
resists but then asks him to take her 
to a raunchy film! 

Let the last word come from 
somebody in the film business: 
"There are films in which romantic 

wooing has been replaced by a kind 
of harassment of the heroine. The 
heroes of these films could be 
considered stalkers in some civil 
societies. Now imagine that this 
actor is a role model to millions... 
wouldn't his fans think this behav- 
iour is okay? Now imagine that this 
actress is a role model to millions... 
what message does it send to 
women across the country?" 

These are the words of actor- 
director Farhan Akhtar. When he 
says things are getting worse, please 
pay attention. 

|t Have our films contributed to the sorry 
W state of affairs where eve-teasing 
and rape are on the increase? What's the 
solution? Write to editor.india@rd.com 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 


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Pets on 

She helps disabled 
animals get back on 
their feet 


rowing up in Bangkok, 
Galwalin Surakup was 
surrounded by dogs — 
both her mother and many of her 
neighbours kept them as compan- 
ions and watchdogs. One day over 
five years ago, Singto, the family's 
playful big brown chow chow, fell ill 
and was unable to walk. 

A veterinarian diagnosed an 
intervertebral disc disorder. At nine 
years of age, the dog was too old for 
surgery. All the vet could do was 
offer medication to help relieve 
Singto's symptoms. "After taking 
him home, I noticed that he tried 
to drag himself along the floor," 
Galwalin recalls. It was, she says, 
unbearable" to watch. 

Working as a secretary at the time, 
Galwalin knew very little about 
treating dogs. But she decided she 
had to do something to help Singto 



get moving again. | 
Visiting veteri- 
nary hospitals and searching online, 
she learnt that dog wheelchairs 
were available overseas, but they 
cost up to 20,000 baht (^36,000) 
to import. 

Galwalin was willing to pay the 
price, but the designs were not suit- 
able for Thailand's humid climate. 
The wheelchairs were padded with 
leather, which made them hot, un- 
comfortable and a breeding ground 
for germs. Instead, she set out to 
create a local wheelchair for dogs. 

Over the next year Galwalin 
designed a model made of a steel 















READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 read ersd igest.CO.in 

frame, rubber wheels and velvet 
covering, and hired metal workers 
to start manufacturing. She tested 
the prototypes on Singto and 40 
other disabled dogs she learnt about 
through her veterinarian friends. 

The units were custom-built for 
each dog. "Basically I had to make a 
correct calculation based on weight 
and material of the wheelchair, size 
of wheel, age of animal, and symp- 
toms or handicap. The efficiency of 
the wheelchair would depend on the 
owner's care as well as the animal's 
ability to adjust," she says. 

Developing the wheelchairs 
consumed all of Galwalin's free 
time. "My parents were afraid I 
would go out of my mind because 
every day I would go nowhere and 
do nothing except watch my dog 
very closely," she recalls. 

"One day my family wanted me 
to go on holiday with them. I agreed 
to go on condition that I would 
borrow a pick-up truck from a 
friend. I sat at the back with Singto." 
Galwalin laughs. 

Slowly she became aware of the 
widespread demand for animal 
wheelchairs, so she decided to quit 
her job and start a business manu- 
facturing and distributing her 
wheelchairs. Today, she makes about 
150 a month and has begun export- 
ing them to Malaysia, Indonesia and 
even the US and Belgium — at about 
half the price of imported models. 

Galwalin says she has no interest 
in making a profit, and sells the 
wheelchairs at cost. She also gives 

wheelchairs for free to pet owners 
who cannot afford to pay. "My real 
intention is to help disabled animals 
to stand on their feet and walk again, 
I want them to enjoy running joy- 
fully just like they did before they 
fell ill," she says. 

"I want the owners to play an 
active role in helping them. It is 
wrong to put the wheelchair on and 
leave it there permanently. Like an 
artificial limb, a wheelchair has to 
be taken off from time to time." 

Galwalin, now 36, also encourages 
pet owners to give their wheelchairs 
back after their pet dies. With some 
adjustment, they can be used for 
another animal in need. She has ex- 
panded her range to include wheel- 
chairs for cats, rabbits and ferrets. 
She is even exploring the possibility 
of an elephant wheelchair. 

Whatever the species, Galwalin 
always takes pride in seeing pets get 
back on their feet. "After regaining 
their movement, some of them even 
appoint themselves the leader of 
the pack by showing their peers that 
they are fastest runners," says 

Singto, too, was transformed by 
his wheelchair. Although he died in 
2009, his final years were happy. 
Says Galwalin, who is now married 
and has a young daughter, "He was 
the same Singto — alive and light- 
hearted — as he was when he could 
still move around on four legs." 

For more details or contact, visit 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 rca dc r sdiges t. CO . in 


A generation of obese urban Indian children face 

huge medical risks and reduced life-spans. How 

can parents and schools fight this problem? 


By the time he was nine years old, 
Aftab Solanki weighed 49 kilos, nearly 
twice the normal weight for boys his 
age. His doting parents and neigh- 
bours considered him "healthy," often 
describing or calling Aftab "cute." 

His sluggishness and increasing 
appetite, his periodic breathlessness, 
occasional dizzy spells and pain in the 
knees were all dismissed as things that 

would disappear once he grew up. 
"But as his weight kept increasing, we 
became concerned and wanted to 
consult a good doctor," says Aftab's 
father, Mohammed Ramzan Solanki. 
Kids like Aftab are part of a fast- 
growing national urban epidemic 
seen over the past few decades. It's an 
irony that despite there being more 
undernourished children in India 


reader's digest FEBRUARY 2013 reade rsd igest.co.in 



than in any other country, we also 
have millions of obese and overweight 
urban schoolchildren. And experts 
say these obese children will one day 
face severe medical consequences. 
Compared to children of normal 
weight, obese ones face several times 
the risk for developing high blood 
pressure, respiratory complications, 
Type-2 diabetes (the most common 

form of the disease), cardiovascular 
disease and cancer — and, indeed, 
much reduced life-spans. 

"The medical consequences of 
obesity are seen at all ages, even 
among kids," says Dr Vaman Khad- 
ilkar, consultant pediatric endo- 
crinologist at Jehangir Hospital, Pune. 
"Our youngest Type-2 diabetic is a 
six-year-old, while a hypertensive 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 re a d e r s d i g e s t . c o . / n 


patient is just eight. High levels of 
cholesterol and triglycerides — both of 
which increase the risk of cardiovas- 
cular disease — are seen in children 
very frequently nowadays, unlike in 
the past. And we routinely see these 
high levels in obese children." 

It's a time bomb waiting to explode 
once these children become adults, 
making obesity one of the most seri- 
ous public health challenges of the 21st 
century. In 2010, Dr Khadilkar and his 
researchers conducted studies at 11 
affluent urban schools from five zones 
across India. They found 18.2 percent 
of all kids aged two to 17 to be over- 
weight or obese as per international 



standards. Other studies too have 
come up with similar figures. 

"During the past three decades, 
obesity rates have doubled for pre- 
school-age children and adolescents 
and tripled for school-going children 
aged 6 to 11 years," maintains Dr Rekha 
Harish, professor and head of pediat- 
rics at Government Medical College, 

Jammu, who is also national convener 
of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics' 
task force for the prevention of child- 
hood obesity. "Overweight children 
have a 70 percent chance of being an 
overweight or obese adult, by which 
time it may be too late to intervene. 
Childhood obesity's enormously- 
growing rate needs urgent attention 
if its potential toll on morbidity, 
mortality, and the economy is to be 

It's not just that obese children suffer 
physical problems; their mental health 
takes a hit too. Manisha Rohera is ea- 
ger to tell her story. "At the age of 15, 
I weighed 80 kilos," she recalls. "When 

the other children 
yearned to be in the 
limelight, I was busy 
hiding from the world 
to avoid embarrass- 
ing comments or peo- 
ple staring at me." 

Manisha would ha- 
bitually feign stom- 
ach pain or headaches 
to escape sports and 
other school activi- 
ties. So, she'd often be 
home watching TV — and snacking 
away, only making matters worse. 
"Even shopping for clothes was 
frustrating," she says. "Not finding 
anything good my size, I'd end up 
in tears." 

Manisha's shame wasn't imaginary. 
People tend to discriminate against 
those who are obese. "Obese people 



READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readcrsdigost.co.in 

feel isolated and suffer from an 
acute lack of confidence," says the 
octogenarian Dr Vinod A. Dhurand- 
har, obesity consultant and founder- 
president of the All India Association 
for Advancing Research in Obesity. 
Dr Dhurandhar weighed 90 kilos in 
his youth and managed to lose 27 with 
diet control before setting up his 
obesity clinic in Mumbai. During the 
last 50 years, he has treated over 
200,000 patients. "At least 40 percent 
of them were children and adoles- 
cents," he says. "An increasing number 
of youngsters are coming to us 

Experts correlate the growth of 
childhood obesity in India with the 
growing middle-class affluence of re- 
cent decades. There is also the belief 
that being chubby is healthy, a hango- 
ver from the days when most Indians 
were thinner and poorer. "Obesity is 
a negative outcome of our improving 
socio-economic status and changing 
lifestyles — we eat more, eat unhealthy 
food and move less than ever before," 
says Dr Abhishek Kulkarni, pediatric 
and adolescent endocrinologist 
at Mumbai's Jaslok Hospital and 
Research Centre. 

"Today, many children spend a lot 
of time being inactive and simultane- 
ously overeating," says Dr Rekha 
Harish. "An average child spends 
about four hours a day with television, 
the internet, mobile phones or video 
games during which they often 
snack on fast food and gulp down 
a lot of sugary soft drinks, all of which 



• Make children and adolescents parti- 
cipate in at least 60 minutes of physical 
activity every day. 

• For preschoolers, most physical 
activity will be unstructured; playing 
outdoors is particularly helpful. 

Encourage physical activity in this 
age group by just "prescribing" 
playground time. 

• For older children, encourage 
structured physical activity when 
possible (team or individual sports, 
or supervised exercise sessions). 
Children are more likely to partici- 
pate consistently when they are 
accountable to a coach or leader. 

• The American Academy of Pediatrics 
(AAP) recommends at least 30 minutes 
of structured physical activity during 
the school day. Refrain from withhold- 
ing recess as a punishment. 


• TV, computer and video games should 
be considered a privilege, not a right. 

• There should be no TV in bedrooms. 

• No eating while watching TV (Warning: 
a lot of commercials with children's 
programs are related to food!). Televi- 
sion viewing is perhaps the best estab- 
lished environmental influence on the 
development of obesity during child- 
hood. Limit screen time to less than 
two hours per day. (AAP recommends 
14 hours per week.) 

• Take physical activity breaks during 

READER'S digest FEBRUARY 2013 readersdiges t. CO. in 


can add up huge calories." 

Inactivity and junk food make a 
dangerous mix. Yet, according to a 
survey by the Associated Chambers 
of Commerce and Industry of India 
(ASSOCHAM), there has been a major 
shift in food habits in our metros, 
where about 86 percent of households 
prefer processed, instant foods, thanks 
to a steep rise in income levels and 
living standards, convenience and 
Western influences. 

It is, therefore, adults who can play 
a pivotal role in both controlling as 
well as causing obesity in children. 
Dr Ravindran Kumeran, the Chennai- 

based founder-trustee of Obesity 
Foundation India, says the onus is on 
parents and educational institutions 
to correct this trend. "Parents are the 
best role models, so if they inculcate 
in their children correct habits and 
lifestyle choices at a tender age, the 
incidence of childhood obesity will 
surely decline. If parents exhibit un- 
healthy habits, there is a very high 
risk of obesity among their chil- 
dren. It is also much harder to treat 
such children." 

Schools too must provide an envi- 
ronment that promotes healthful eat- 
ing and physical activities. But in a 
recent study on school sports skills 



Body Mass Index (BMI) 
is a measurement tool that 
compares height to weight 
and gives an indication of 
whether an individual is 
overweight, underweight 
or at a healthy weight for 
their height. To calculate 
BMI, take weight and 
height measurements and 
do the following 

Weight (kilos) 

BMI = 

Height (m) x Height (m) 


Take the resulting BMI 
figure, find it on the chart, 
then go to your child's age 
to find what range they're 

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 










READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge st . c o . i n 

and fitness, conducted among 49,046 
children in 104 schools across 54 
Indian cities by EduSports, a Banga- 
lore-based sports education company, 
it was found that one out of two 
school-going children between ages 
seven and 17 are growing up without 
the fundamental skills needed to en- 
gage in sports. "You can't blame chil- 
dren for this," says Saumil Majumdar, 
co-founder and CEO, EduSports. "It 
is we adults who are not providing 
them opportunities to play. We are 
snatching away their playgrounds and 
open spaces. It is not junk food alone 
that is making them obese — it is the 
junk lifestyle we provide them." 


BMI Ranges 
for Girls 

■■ ■ : I ■ I J I 

T 1 1 1 i ! ! 1 F 


2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 


Indeed, some schools across the 
country are slowly waking up to the 
growing obesity problem, making 
playtime and yoga compulsory for 
their students. Some schools conduct 
annual health checks and discuss mat- 
ters with parents and the school 
dietitian, if a child is overweight. Oth- 
ers have revamped their canteen 
menus. "We've banned chips and aer- 
ated drinks from our canteen and in- 
troduced healthier options like idlis 
and light sandwiches," says Mukta 
Nain, principal of Kolkata's Birla High 
School. "We've really reduced fried 
stuff and cheese, for instance." 
Meanwhile, Dr Paula Goel, physi- 
cian for adolescents 
and director of Fayth 
Clinic in Mumbai, has 
started a gymnasium 
and weight-loss work- 
shops for teenagers. 
She maintains that the 
dietary and physical 
behaviour of children 
and adolescents are in- 
fluenced by many sec- 
tors of society: family, 
community, schools, 
media, and the food 
and beverage industry. 
"So we all need to work 
collectively to combat 
obesity in children and 
treat it as a disease 
rather than a cosmetic 
problem," she says. 

In Western coun- 
tries, where obesity in 
children is a much 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge st .c o . i n 


older problem, there have been such 
collective efforts. In France, a private 
initiative called EPODE (the French 
acronym for "Together let's prevent 
childhood obesity") recruits stake- 
holders not just from schools but from 
all levels of a community to fight 
childhood obesity — small business- 
men, mayors and food vendors as well 
as teachers and parents all work to- 
gether to spread messages about 
healthy living throughout the com- 
munity. "The objective is to modify 
the lifestyle of the whole population," 
explains Jean-Michel Borys, director 
of EPODE's European Network. 





Such efforts may be paying off. The 
most recent statistics from France, 
Germany, Sweden, Switzerland 
and some parts of Italy and Austria 
indicate that childhood obesity rates 
might be levelling off and even 
dropping in some cases. 

Remember Manisha Rohera? At 90 

kilos, troubled by shame and a few 
failed marriage proposals, she decided 
to lose weight. In consultation with a 

doctor, she began a three-hour daily 
regimen of light exercises, including 
walking. "I never stopped, not for a 
single day," beams Manisha. "Even 
during the monsoons, I'd walk holding 
an umbrella." She also reworked her 
diet, eliminating fried foods and 
sweets and included more of fruits, 
vegetables and sprouts. Today, aged 
39 and down to 52 kilos, she is proud 
of her achievement. Having realized 
the importance of being disciplined 
and fit, she is helping others with 
similar problems. She studied to 
become a dietitian and deals with 
over 40 patients a day. Manisha 

got married too. 

Meanwhile, their 
doctor advised Aftab 
Solanki's parents to 
make him take up 
some physical activi- 
ties and control the 
boy's diet. Now he 
eats mainly fruits and 
salads. Today, Aftab 
weighs a healthy 37 
kilos. He plays several 
games and rides a 
bicycle. He no longer has pain in the 
knees and is able to carry his school- 
bag comfortably without panting. "He 
is also much happier and mingles con- 
fidently with his friends," says his dad, 
Mohammed Ramzan. "What was once 
the prospect of poor health and a bleak 
future for my son changed my percep- 
tion about how healthy children should 
be. Nowadays I even tell other parents 
not to dote on their fat children in the 
belief they're 'healthy'." ■ 



READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e st . c o . i n 







£W^M hese older men ought to 
^ * understand modern atti- 
tudes." "You can't let him get 
away with such outdated statements." 
Commonly repeated lines — or words 
to that effect — from younger, politi- 
cally correct experts in prime-time 
TV debates. They followed recent 
"gender-insensitive" statements made 
by older men, all public figures like a 
godman in Gujarat, an RSS leader, a 
police official. 

So you think all that's going to 
change once the reins of leadership 
are handed over to today's youth? 
Think again. 

In "A Report Card on Adolescents," 
an extensive worldwide study by 
UNICEF of adolescents, India figures 
prominently. Adolescent boys in the 
15-to-19 age group were asked 

whether or not "they think that a 
husband is justified in hitting or 
beating his wife under certain 
circumstances, i.e., if his wife burns 
the food, argues with him, goes out 
without telling him, neglects the 
children or refuses sexual relations." 

As many as 57% of Indian boys 
replied "Yes." And India figures 
among just 14 countries (among them 
Uganda, Ethiopia and Azerbaijan) 
where the Yes figure crossed 50%. 
The report explains that such a 
response among adolescent boys "re- 
flects societal views that accept such 
practices when women and girls have 
a lower status or when they do not 
fulfil certain expected gender roles." 

Gender bias takes root early. 
Unless that's addressed, nothing 
will change. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e ad e rsd ige st .co. i n 


A go-getter with a big 
heart, he is educating 
thousands of poor tribal 
kids from KG to PG 


At 17, Prakash Chandra Murmu has spent 
most of his life at a boarding school in 
Bhubaneswar, where he was admitted as a 
small child in 2003 with Bikash, his older 
brother. Recently, his school sent Prakash, who 
likes science and is a keen sportsman, to a 
week-long international English-language 
camp in Taiwan. Earlier he'd been to London 
to play rugby. "It's been good here," says 







READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a dc rs digc S t . C O . in 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 


Prakash. "My school has given me so 
many opportunities." 

It might seem as if Prakash attends 
an exclusive international school, 
where his parents pay lakhs of rupees 
in fees. Actually, his is a free school 
founded for poor tribals by an unas- 
suming 48-year-old bachelor named 
Achyutananda Samanta, who lost his 
factory-worker father when he was 
five and endured abject poverty. "Ed- 
ucating just one generation of tribal 
children can change their communi- 
ties," says Samanta. 

Prakash, a Santal tribal now doing 
his BSc, is just back at his school- 

neglected," explains Mahendra 
Prasad, a director with the Kalinga 
institutions. "And tribal child mortal- 
ity remains very high." 

"Odisha has 62 scheduled tribes," 
adds Samanta. "They're the poorest 
of the poor. But give their children 
an education and they become no 
different from you and me." 

Prakash smiles in assent and intro- 
duces some of his schoolmates. 
There's BCom student Tani Murmu. 
Seema Hansda is in her second-year 
MBBS, Saudagar Hansda is doing his 
LLB, while MA economics scholar 
Sanjukta Rani Hembram wants to 

'Educating just one generation 

of tribal children can 


cum-college, the Kalinga Institute of 
Social Sciences (KISS) after the vaca- 
tions. Housing around 16,500 tribal 
students this year, KISS is arguably 
one of the world's largest residential 
schools. Had Prakash remained in his 
remote tribal village of Gopiabandha 
in Odisha, he might never have got 
any education, or even dreamt about 
exclusive camps or sports tourna- 
ments abroad — all that if he survived 
childhood. "My village is very back- 
ward," he says. "The local school is 
not good. And when people fall ill, 
they're taken on a bicycle for long 
distances to reach a doctor." 

"Odisha's tribals, nearly a quarter 
of the state's population, are grossly 

specialize in rural education and 
return to her tribal roots as a teacher. 
They've all grown up at KISS with 
Samanta — who is not a tribal — fulfill- 
ing their basic right to an education. 
"At KISS," says Samanta, who habitu- 
ally plays with his English phrases, 
"we offer an education from KG 
to PG." 

As Samanta explains the risks of 
caring for and managing so many 
children ("More than 50 may be sick 
at any time"), in the schoolyard out- 
side swarms of boarders, from tiny 
tots to teens, are served lunch. They 
queue up with steel plates before big 
cauldrons of rice and dalma, a local 
curry. "The food is simple," says 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigcst.co.in 

Jabes Hajoary (far left) is now doing his MA in sociology. Sanjukta Rani (fourth 
from left), her MA in economics. Saudagar (in striped purple T-shirt) is studying 
law, while Prakash Chandra and Raj Kishore (in T-shirts, right) are star sportsmen. 





Mahendra Prasad, "but dalma, made 
of yellow lentil and several vegeta- 
bles, is nutritious. On Wednesdays 
they are served eggs and on Sundays, 
they get chicken curry." 

With dorms and classrooms for 
thousands of students (whose num- 
bers have grown every year), the 
campus is a large township in north- 
ern Bhubaneswar. Spread across 25 
square kilometres, it comprises KISS 
and an even larger mother institu- 
tion, KIIT — pronounced kit — also 
Samanta's creation, as are these 
rhyming acronyms. Samanta first set 
up KIIT, short for Kalinga Institute of 
Industrial Technology, in 1992 as an 

industrial training institute (ITI) 
with just two rooms, 12 students and 
^5000 saved from his job as a chemis- 
try lecturer. With Samanta's 18-hour 
workdays and inborn management 
skills, KIIT just grew and grew. 

"Growing it wasn't easy," he says. 
"I had to promise jobs to the children 
of those who sold me land. I once had 
?14 lakh in overdue loans. Money- 
lenders hounded me and I thought of 
suicide. But a nationalized bank came 
to my rescue and lent me even more 
money." Samanta also had to tackle 
petty bureaucrats and please them. 
To get one clerk to push a file for 
him, Samanta used to take the man's 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r C a d C r s d i gc St . C O . i n 







Til* ■ ^ *•" 

» • 




* V 



>•• »" 






• i 



relative on his scooter for weeks to 
medical appointments. 

In 1995, a team of education inspec- 
tors asked him for a treat — dinner at 
a Bhubaneswar five-star hotel. "I had 
to agree, but they wined and dined 
so much, when I went over to pay the 
bill I didn't have enough money," says 
Samanta, like he's telling an old 
joke. "I then frantically rode around 
town to borrow cash." But as his work 
became known, all that changed. 
"Nobody makes such demands any 
more." Even so, Samanta's fast-paced, 
get-it-done style has got him into the 
news — and it hasn't always been 
good, as with a recent charge made 
by the CBI against some staff mem- 
bers of one of his colleges. "Some are 
jealous of what I do, others may take 

Republic Day parade at one of several 

KISS boarding houses. KISS staff 

regularly scout the poorest tribal areas 

for new children to join the school. 

advantage of us," claims Samanta, 
countering such negative reports, "I 
like to trust people." 

Indeed, Odisha is rife with such 
reports. "You can't be a saint here 
and get things done," one noted so- 
cial worker from the state told me. 
"As for Samanta, he's doing a good 
job for tribals. I too have sent to him 
many tribal children, who are all 
getting an education at KISS." 

Education, including boarding, 
clothing, tuition and other needs are 
free for all KISS students because 
there's the fee-charging KIIT, one of 














READER'S digest February 2013 readersdigest.co.in 

India's largest private universities. 
Some 18,000 students attend KIIT's 
ultra-modern faculties: from art and 
media studies, law and fashion de- 
sign to management, engineering 
and medicine. Besides the tribal 
school, KISS has colleges offering 
arts, science and commerce degrees. 
Tribal kids are admitted free to KIIT 
if they take up courses there. "It's 
quite simple," explains Samanta. 
"KIIT funds KISS." 

How someone like Samanta could 
realize all this is often the stuff of 
dreams. In 1970, after his father, a 
Tata Steel employee, suddenly died 
in Jamshedpur, his mother was left 

saved me was that I liked to study," 
says Samanta. "I read at my teacher's 
house when Mother ran out of kero- 
sene for the lamps." Sure enough, he 
worked his way up to his MSc in 
chemistry and then the lecturer's job 
he held for 10 years. 

The hardships he endured were 
"actually a gift from God," Samanta 
now believes, because it taught him 
firsthand the one thing the very poor 
really needed. "Why am I able to sit 
across and talk to you on equal 
terms?" he asks me. "Only because I 
got an education. That's all I'm giving 
these children." 

Samanta also took some hard deci- 

'My poverty was a gift from God. It 
taught me to understand what 


with her seven children to fend for. 
She moved back to their village of 
Kalarabank, Odisha, with Achyuta 
and his two youngest siblings. "Ach- 
yuta worked in the fields from age 
six and sold paddy husk, coconuts 
and bananas to help support the fam- 
ily," recalls Manoranjan Pradhan, a 
Cuttack-based lawyer and childhood 

"Often we didn't get one square 
meal for two days," says Samanta. 
"Mother too did menial jobs and 
gathered edible weeds by the river 
to feed us." Things improved only 
after one of his brothers was given a 
job in Tata Steel. "But what really 

sions. He became a confirmed bach- 
elor and shunned personal wealth. 
"If I had a wife and children," he says, 
"it would have been hard not to care 
for them or have self-interests." And, 
despite creating his massive educa- 
tional empire from scratch, he will 
tell you that his monthly salary is 
modest, far less than he pays his sen- 
ior employees. From this, he says, he 
keeps just enough for expenses, in- 
cluding rent for the simple house he 
lives in, away from campus, and do- 
nates the rest to the poor. Others who 
run private universities would treat 
it as a family business and keep much 
of the profits. "But reinvesting the 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r C a d C r sd i gc St . C O . i n 


Tribal art, created by 

the children, adorn 

KISS school buildings. 

income," Samanta explains, "is how 
we're able to keep on buying land and 
expand the two institutions." 

Samanta takes childlike pleasure 
in talking about his achievements — 
which aren't small by any standards. 
He's also media savvy, enjoys the 
limelight and likes being "Dr Sa- 
manta," which is how everybody ad- 
dresses him (he has several honorary 
doctorates). He also talks with pride 
about the many great personalities — 
ranging from ambassadors and Nobel 
laureates to statesmen like former 
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam — who 
have come visiting. Yet Samanta's 
frugality, too, shows. In his simple 
white shirts worn casually over 
jeans even at solemn university func- 
tions, he looks more like one of his 
students than an entrepreneur. He 
has no office on campus, but pores 
through official papers, or meets 
most visitors, under the shade of a 
kadamba tree. His car is a second- 
hand 1998 Maruti Zen hatchback 
while some of his employees, who 
include expat academics from several 


countries, zip about in swanky new 
sedans and SUVs. "They need to be 
well off to be happy," he explains. 
"They have families. I have to pay 
well to attract and retain the best 
academic staff." 

Achyuta Samanta looks on proudly 
as I talk to another of his tribal stu- 
dents. Raj Kishore, 17, has been at 
KISS since class one. In 2007 the dark, 
stocky boy led the KISS India rugby 
team at an international junior 
tournament in England. His team 
returned as unbeaten champions. 
He's also played in Australia. "When 
our team played in Sydney," says 
Samanta, "I went over to cheer them 
on personally at a key match." 

KISS students are also encouraged 
to continue with their tribal tradi- 





- 1 


reader's digest FEBRUARY 2013 reade rsd igest. co. in 

tions. The school buildings are 
adorned with their tribal mural crea- 
tions. The children's paintings and 
embroidery, often using tribal motifs, 
are sold at exhibitions and any money 
earned sent to their parents. 

One student, Jabes Hajoary, 21, 
with his oriental features and light 
complexion, looks different from the 
others. Jabes learnt about KISS on the 
internet in his school's lab, back in 
his native Assam a few years ago and 
decided to apply for his BA. Being a 
tribal, he was admitted. "I wanted to 
experience a different world. I'm glad 
I came here and adjusted with others 
from different cultures," says Jabes, 
sounding like the sociology major he 
is. To experience yet another culture, 
he recently moved to Pondicherry, 
where he is an MA student. 

Meanwhile, other KISS alumni, too, 
are spreading out and merging into 
mainstream India, just the way 
Samanta wants it. Ramesh Nayak, 21, 
had just earned his BTech from KIIT 
after moving there from KISS. He was 
back home in Beharamal village in 
Odisha's tribal-dominated Sundar- 

garh district, after being placed in 
TCS as a software systems engineer, 
when I spoke to him, and doing TCS's 
online training on his laptop. He's 
since moved to Chennai and started 
work. What does Ramesh have to say 
about Samanta? "My living God," 
Ramesh replies over his cellphone. 
"Without Samanta Sir, I'd be no- 

Like Ramesh and Jabes, their men- 
tor too is now looking beyond Bhu- 
baneswar. Samanta is busy setting up 
20 KISS branches in Odisha's tribal 
areas. That is not all. "I also want a 
KISS branch in every state," he says, 
"only then will my dream for tribals 
be fulfilled." Work has started in 
Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Delhi. 
And Samanta is in talks with the 
governments of Kerala, Karnataka, 
Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. 
"This is going to be contagious," 
Dr Samanta laughs. "When you're 
doing something for others and not 
for yourself, everybody listens." 

For more information, visit: 

"A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the 

value of life." Charles Darwin 

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't 
be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's 
thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own 
inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart 
and intuition." steve Jobs 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e s t . c o . i n 



Falling in love, 

whether with 

a sweetheart or 

a newborn, turns 
our brains into 



mush balls 



READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 re a d e rs d i ge s t . c o . / n 

READER'S DIGES^ ^3 readersdigest.co.in 



Sharon Roesch is madly in love— 
with more than one man. Giggling and 
gushing with emotion, her recollection 
of falling, at just 17, for Love No. 1, hus- 
band Scott, is vivid. "I was totally in- 
fatuated," she confesses. "My heart 
would be pounding when I knew I'd 
be seeing him." Fast-forward a dozen 
years to the birth of Love No. 2, son 
Liam. Spellbound a second time, 
Roesch confides, "I began falling in 
love with Liam when I was pregnant." 
And, she sighs, the first touch landed 
the knockout punch: 
"I was head over 

Her two-timing 
ways are typical of 
the human experi- 
ence. While poets have 
long been penning their 
paeans to passion, brain 
scientists have lately taken 
up their quills to tell us that love 
is, in fact, very much in the head. 


Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher 
is studying our romantic ardour. With 
fellow researchers, Fisher, author of 
Why We Love and Anatomy of Love, 
has used functional magnetic reso- 
nance imaging (fMRI) to peer into 
the brains of new lovers. They found 
that when people look at pictures 
of their beloved, they register an 
increase in activity deep in the brain's 
primordial centre — the region that 
helps power our survival instincts 
and floods our brain's dopamine- 

Life's grandest 

a mate 
who may pass 
theirDNA towards 
X eternity 7 

driven reward circuitry. 

Dopamine, observes Fisher, is the 
brain's motivational chemical, the 
same one that's stimulated by pleasure- 
inducing (and addictive) drugs and, 
appropriately, chocolate. It also 
suppresses production of serotonin, 
a neurotransmitter that helps stabilize 
our moods. The dopamine rush is all 
about craving, elation, energy and 
intensely focused attention; the se- 
rotonin shortage is about incessant 
thinking and what one researcher 

characterizes as "invol- 
untary, irresistible 
ruminations." The 
stuff of new love. 

At the same time, 
the brain's emotional 
and motivational zones 
become saturated with 
a natural amphetamine 
that fires up feelings of in- 
tense romantic love. So, Fisher 
concludes, our instinct to love is a 
drive similar to hunger and thirst, has 
characteristics in common with mental 
disorders, and creates highs akin to 
those produced by cocaine and speed. 
So much for romance. 

And there's more. Andreas Bartels, 
former research fellow in the 
Laboratory of Neurobiology at 
University College London, in 
England, and Semir Zeki, head of that 
laboratory, published fMRI research 
in 2000 suggesting that romantic love 
disables primal parts of the brain that 
help us with critical social judgement. 
Thus possessed, we are fools for love, 




READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e ad e r s d i ge s t . c o . i n 

blind to our lover's faults. In Fisher's 
mind, the passions of lovers like 
Roesch are primarily biological, in 
pursuit of "life's grandest prize — a 
mate who may pass their DNA towards 


While that first blush of love is fine 
for securing a good mate, says Fisher, 
it's less effective for the day-to-day 
survival of the individual. So, the brain 
adapts with a new set of chemicals and 
circuits to focus us on raising our own 
little Liams. The two main instigators 
associated with love's attachment im- 
perative are the "cuddle" hormones 
vasopressin and oxytocin. In their 
study, Bartels and Zeki discovered that 
romantic love activates regions of the 
brain rich in receptors for the cuddle 
chemicals. These are concentrated in 
the reward structures of the brain. 

Not coincidentally, in another study, 
Bartels and Zeki found similar activity 
in some of the same brain networks of 
mothers with children. Using fMRI 
technology, they scanned the brains of 
mothers as they looked at images of 
their children. 

They discovered that primal parts 
of mums' brains, associated with criti- 
cal social judgement, switched off 
while the attachment networks were 
primed with oxytocin receptors. 

Moreover, oxytocin is released every 
time a mother nurses her infant, so 
she's constantly charging up the cud- 
dle effect. So, a mother's love triangle 
is hard-wired, propelling her to fall 
in love, have babies and form a deep 

attachment with her mate and her 
offspring that ensures their care. 

Dads may be hard-wired, too. In 
animal studies, when bachelor males 
were given a hit of vasopressin — the 
male equivalent to oxytocin when it 
comes to making a commitment — they 
abandoned their wanton ways and 
became protective lovers. 


Life's great passion, says Fisher, is time- 
less and ageless. In studies, people in 
love express the same heart-pounding, 
dopamine-flooded, serotonin-starved 
ardour whether they're 16 or 60. But 
if falling in love is a no-brainer, the 
trick for lovebirds is keeping the 
magic alive. 

Fisher says it's a matter of prompt- 
ing the brain to recall the high of those 
early days. The best way to do that is 
to plan new experiences with your 
mate — since novelty and excitement 
rev up dopamine production, they also 
prime the pathways for passion. 

Roesch says her early infatuation 
with Scott has matured into the satisfy- 
ing, steadying attachment that comes 
with being "an old, married couple." 

And the birth of their son has added 
to that. "When I see Scott parenting 
Liam, it changes the love I have for 
him," she says. "It makes it stronger 
in another way." For them, she says, 
"we do things we both really enjoy, 
like boating together or setting up a 
date night." Then, she sparkles, "we 
don't have eight-year-married sex. We 
have great, wild sex." 

Ah, sweet love. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 




One man's advice for composing the 

perfect mash note 


from Esquire 

A long time ago, when I was living in 
my favourite apartment behind a quiet 
bamboo patch, I wrote my first love 
letter. It was a liquid hot afternoon, 
and I was sitting on my screened 
porch, enjoying my boredom, think- 
ing that I was full up with the very 
thought of her. 

I drew a pretty cool heart on a piece 
of newsprint, rolled that into a manual 
typewriter, and then pecked out about 
15 sentences. I took more than an hour. 
I had to. I couldn't edit, and I couldn't 
use a correction fluid. It worked too. 
That woman was happy. 

So happy that she stuck it on the 
door of her refrigerator, where it clung 

to a magnet-laden collage of birthday 
cards, Easter cards, thinking-of-you 
cards. This irked me. "It's a love let- 
ter," I told her. "It's only for you. You're 
supposed to save it. It's supposed to 
be folded up in a book somewhere." 
She didn't understand. She treated it 
like a card. 

When it comes to writing a love let- 
ter, remember: It's not a card. 

It's a letter. 

First, sit. Letters take time. 

Letters have a rhythm. Letters must 
be written, and writing takes a while. 
Three lines can't do the work of three 
paragraphs. This is not to say your let- 
ter must be long. Three paragraphs 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge sr . c o . i n 


Heart to Heart 

We asked readers to share the 

first line of the best love letter you've 

ever received. Here's a sampling. 

Seeingyou takes my breath away. 

Sue Coleman 

You know 


know I love you. Don't tell 

Giovanna Hinojosa Lopez 

There's something new and 
different in the way I feel with you. 

Melissa Buck 

• A cup of tea with you is worth a 

thousand dinners! Abida Jabeen 

• I love you without knowing how 
or when, or from where. I love you 
because I know no other way. 

Tins Matienzo Antonio 

^What were the lines that touched you 
"the most in a love letter you received? 
Write to editor. india a rd.com or post 
your comments to the Editorial address. 











can do the work of three pages. Just 

give them some time. 

Be loyal to the past you share. If 

your love emerged on a boating trip, 
then you don't just mention that ex- 
perience — you make it. Let the river 
become your palette. Tell a story that 
only the two of you know. Or narrate 
a moment in which she was unaware 
that you were watching her. Use detail 
to show what you remember and that 
you remember. 

Let the example precede sentiment. 
A good love letter declares itself 
plainly, then illustrates particularly. "I 
saw you watching the men play chess 

in the park. So quiet. I love the way 
you look at things." Show her what 
you love in her before you tell her 
what you love in her. Show, then tell. 
Don't repeat yourself. Emotional 
declarations matter more if you space 
them a little. Even in a short letter, you 
must create room. With love, there's 
value in scarcity. That's why it feels 
like such a jackpot. 
Most of all, remember that it's pri- 
vate. Say something that surprises 
you about yourself. Let her know that 
she is redefining your terms. In this 
way most, a love letter is like love 
itself. There must be risk. ■ 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e i s d i g e s t . c o . i n 


:) Laughter! 



the dad. "They all smell 
this way." 

A man storms into his manager's 
office and demands a raise. 
"And just so you know," he blusters, 
"three other companies are after me!" 

"Is that so?" the manager asks, 
"Which companies in particular?" 

"The electricity company, the 
telephone company and the gas 

Company." Zelda Boshoff 

The young father took a seat on the 
bus next to an elderly man 
and plopped his one-year- 
old on his lap, just as to 
the little boy began 
to cry and fidget. 

"That child is 
spoiled, isn't he?" 
the old man 

"No," said 

I don't un- 
derstand this new 
wave of incredibly good-look- 
ing vampires. How can they do 
their hair and make-up so well 
when they can't even see them- 
selves in the mirror? 

Comedian Mark Trenwith 

Robert Howe 

Have you heard the ex- 
pression "If these walls 
could talk?" It means "If 
people only knew the 
interesting things that 
happen in this room." But 
whenever I hear that 
expression, I always think, 
What could be happening 
in that room that is more 
interesting than the fact 
that the walls can talk? 

Comedian Lawson Leong 

A wife texts her husband on a frosty 
winter's morning. "Windows frozen!' 

Her husband texts back, "Pour 
lukewarm water over it." 

Five minutes later comes her 
reply: "Computer completely 

messed up now." Catherin Hiscox 

A pig walks into a bar, orders 15 
beers, and knocks them back. 

"You've had a lot to drink. 
Would you like to know 

Lg where the bathroom 

is?" asks the bar- 
W tender. 
fc;.- "No," says the 

hog. "I'm the lit- 
tle pig that goes 
wee-wee-wee all 
the way home." 





READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge s t . c o . / n 


No, this bear isn't dancing to "Gangnam Style." But it is doing its best to keep its 
balance while standing upright. Either way, it's the coolest bear in the Arctic. 













For 30 years, Kabir Mistry had 
arrived for work precisely at 9am 
and never missed a day. Then one 
morning, 9am passed without Kabir. 
All work at the office ceased. Even 
the boss was looking at his watch 
and muttering. 

Finally, Kabir limped in at 10am, 
shirt crumpled and torn, face 
bruised, arm bandaged and his 
glasses bent. "I tripped and rolled 
down two flights of stairs at the 
railway station," he moaned. "Nearly 
killed myself." 

"And for just that," said his boss, 
"you took a whole hour!" 

Karctn Singh Aulakh, from the internet 

Wanda and Sylvia are talking in 
heaven. "Hi, Sylvia, how did you 
die?" asks Wanda. "I froze to death," 
replies Sylvia. 

'How horrible!" says Wanda. 

Oh, it wasn't so bad. After I quit 
shaking from the cold I began to get 



warm and sleepy, and finally died a 
peaceful death. What about you?" 

"I died of a massive heart attack," 
says Wanda. "I suspected my 
husband was cheating, so I came 
home early to catch him in the 
act. But he was all by himself 
watching TV in the hall." 

"So what happened?" 

"Well, I was so sure there was an- 
other woman that I started running 
all over the house looking. I ran up 
into the attic, down into the base- 
ment, went through every closet and 
checked under all the beds. I kept 
this up until I'd looked everywhere, 
and finally I got so exhausted that I 
just keeled over with a heart attack 
and died." 

"Wow," says Sylvia. "Too bad you 
didn't look in the deep-freezer, we'd 
both still be alive." Miguel Campiglia 

k We will pay for your Laughter anecdote. 
W Post it to the Editorial address or e-mail: 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r C a d C r S d i gc St . C O . i n 


reader's digest February 2013 rea dersdigest. co. in 



from ESPN The Magazine 

She lives in one of the worst slums 

on earth — but she has genius 

and grit. Here's how a 14-year-old 

Ugandan girl named Phiona Mutesi 

took the chess world by surprise 

She flies to Siberia with nine teammates, most 
in their 20s, much older than she is. When she won 
the match that put her on this plane, she had no idea 
that her win would send her to Khanty-Mansiysk, in 
remote Russia; no idea where Russia was. But here she 
is, journeying with her countrymen 27 hours across 
the globe. And though she has known many of them 
for a few years, they have no idea where she is from or 
where she aspires to go, because Phiona Mutesi is from 
a place where girls like her don't talk about that. » 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d ig e s t . c o . i n 

Agape church, in Katwe, Uganda, 

could collapse at any moment. It is a 
ramshackle structure held together by 
scrap wood, rope, a few nails, and faith. 
At the church one Saturday morning 
are 37 children whose lives are equally 
fragile. They wander in to play a game 
none had heard of before they met 
Coach Robert, a game so foreign that 
there's no word for it in Luganda, their 
native language. 


When they walk through the door, 
grins crease their faces. This is their 
home as much as any place, a refuge. 
Inside Agape church it is almost pos- 
sible to forget the chaos outside, in a 
slum that is one of the worst places 
on earth. 

A child sits on each end of a wob- 
bly pew, both straddling the board 
between their knobby knees. When 
more than a few seconds elapse with- 
out a move, there is a palpable rest- 
lessness. Surrender is signalled by a 
clattering of pieces on the board. 

Coach Robert Katende is here. So 
are Benjamin and Ivan and Brian. 
And up near the pulpit sits Phiona. 
One of two girls in the room, Phiona 
is juggling three matches at once, 
checkmating opponents while draw- 
ing a flower in the mud on the floor 
with her toe. Phiona is 14, and her 
stone face gives no sign that the 
next day she will travel to Siberia to 
compete against the best players in 
the world. 

If you make 

smart moves, you 

can stay away 

from danger, 

but any bad 

decision could 

be your last. 

Tim Crothers is a former senior writer for Sports 
Illustrated. His book about Phiona Mutesi, 
The Queen of Katwe, was published last year. 

The opening ceremonies at the 

2010 Chess Olympiad take place in 
an ice arena. Phiona has never seen 
ice. There are also lasers and dancers 
inside bubbles and people costumed 
as chess pieces. Phiona asks if this 
happens every night in this place, 
and she is told no, the arena normally 
serves as a home for hockey, concerts, 
and the circus. She has never heard of 
those things. 

She returns to the hotel, which at 
13 floors is the tallest building Phiona 
has ever entered. She stares out the 
window, amazed by how people on 
the ground look so tiny. She takes a 
long shower. 

Phiona Mutesi is the ultimate un- 
derdog. To be African can make one an 
underdog in the world. To be Ugandan 
is to be an underdog in Africa. To be 
from Katwe is to be an underdog in 
Uganda. And finally, to be female is to 
be an underdog in Katwe. 
She wakes at 5:00 each morning to 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge sr . c o . i n 




begin a three-hour trek 
to fill a jug with drink- 
able water, walking 
through lowland that is 
often so severely flooded 
that many residents 
sleep in hammocks near 
their ceilings to avoid 
drowning. There are no 
sewers. Flies are every- 
where. The stench is ap- 

Phiona walks past 
dogs, rats, and long-horned cattle. 
Women here are valued for little 
more than sex and child care, and an 
estimated 50 percent of teen girls are 
mothers. It is said that if you are born 
in Katwe, you die in Katwe — from dis- 
ease or violence or neglect. "Chess is 
a lot like my life," Phiona says through 
an interpreter. "If you make smart 
moves, you can stay away from dan- 
ger, but you know any bad decision 
could be your last." 

She and her family live in a ten- 
by-ten-foot room, its only window 
covered by plywood. A curtain is 
drawn across the doorway when the 
door is open, as it always is during 
the sweltering daytime in this country 
bisected by the equator. The walls are 
bare, except for etched phone num- 
bers. There is no phone. 

The contents of Phiona's home are: 
two water jugs, wash bin, small char- 
coal stove, teapot, plates and cups, 
toothbrush, Bible, and two musty mat- 
tresses. The latter suffice for five peo- 
ple: Phiona, mother Harriet, teenage 
brothers Brian and Richard, and her 

Playing Canada's Dina Kagramanov, who 
is almost a decade older. 

six-year-old niece, Winnie. Pouches 
of curry powder, salt, and tea leaves 
are the only hints of food. 

At the Olympiad, Phiona is among 
the youngest of more than 1000 play- 
ers from some 150 countries. She is 
the second-seeded player for the 
Ugandan team, but now she isn't play- 
ing against kids anymore. She keeps 
thinking, Do I really belong here? 

Her first opponent, Dina Kagramanov, 
the Canadian national champion, is 
competing in her third Olympiad and, 
at almost 24, has probably been play- 
ing elite chess longer than Phiona has 
been alive. Kagramanov wins but is 
shocked to learn this is Phiona's first 
international match against an adult. 
"To reason like she does at her age is 
a gift that gives her the potential for 
greatness," the Canadian says. 

When asked about early memo- 
ries, Phiona can recall only loss. "I 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e s t . c o . i n 


Phiona with her mother at home in 
Katwe after a long day of chess. 

went to my dad's village when I was 
about three to see him, and a week 
later he died of AIDS," she says. "After 
the funeral, my family stayed in the 
village for a few weeks, and one morn- 
ing, my older sister, Juliet, told me she 
had a headache. We gave her some 
herbs, and she went to sleep. The fol- 
lowing morning we found her dead." 

Harriet, who is often sick, is some- 
times gone for days trying to make 
money for her family's daily meal of 
rice and tea. She wakes up at 2am to 

walk five kilometres to buy 
the avocados and brinjals 
that she resells at a street 
market. Phiona is left to 
care for her siblings. 

One afternoon when 
she was just nine but had 
already dropped out of 
school because her family 
couldn't afford it, she se- 
cretly followed Brian out 
of their shack in hopes he 
might lead to the first meal 
of the day. She watched 
him enter a corridor, sit on 
a bench, and begin playing 
with some black and white 
objects. Phiona had never 
seen anything like these 
pieces, and she thought they 
were beautiful. She peeked 
around a corner again and 
again, fascinated by the 
game and also wondering if 
there might be some food. Suddenly, 
she was spotted. "Young girl," said 
Coach Robert Katende. "Come in. 
Don't be afraid." 

In Siberia, Phiona is engulfed by 

chess, pausing only to visit the hotel 
restaurant's all-you-can-eat buffet. 
At the first few meals, Phiona makes 
herself sick by overeating. On the 
second day of games, she arrives at 
the venue early to explore. She sees 
women dressed in burkhas, Indian 
women in saris, and Bolivian women 
in ponchos and black bowler hats. She 
sees an Iraqi kneel and begin to pray 












READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s dige s t . c o . i n 

I thought that 

girls are always 

weak, but when 

I met Phiona, 

I saw she could 

play as well as 

towards Mecca. Midway through her 
match against Elaine Lin Yu-Tong of 
Taiwan, Phiona makes a tactical error, 
costing her two pawns. Her opponent 
makes a similar blunder, but Phiona 
doesn't realize it until it's too late. 
From then on, she stares crestfallen as 
the rest of the moves play out, and she 
loses a match she thinks she should 
have won. Phiona bolts to the parking 
lot, boards a shuttle bus alone, returns 
to her hotel room, and bawls into her 
pillow. Later that evening, Katende 
tries his best to comfort her. It is the 
only time chess has ever brought her 
to tears. In fact, she cannot remember 
the last time she cried. 

Robert Katende was orphaned 

young. He eventually scraped out a 
living playing football, despite hav- 
ing suffered a serious head injury. In 
2003, his coach told him about a job 
at Sports Outreach Institute, a Chris- 
tian mission, and Robert, a born-again 
Christian, found his calling. He was 

assigned to Katwe, where he began 
drawing kids for football and post- 
game porridge. He searched for a way 
to engage the ones who watched from 
the sidelines. He found a solution in 
an old chess set. "I had my doubts," 
Katende admits. "I wondered, Can 
these kids really play this game?" 

Katende began offering chess les- 
sons after games, starting with six 
boys who came to be known as The 
Pioneers. After two years, he had 25 
kids. That's when a barefoot nine-year- 
old girl peeked into the corridor. 

"When I first saw chess, I thought, 

What could make all these kids so si- 
lent?" Phiona recalls. "Then I watched 
them play and get happy and excited, 
and I wanted a chance to be that 

Phiona started walking six kilome- 
ters every day to play chess. The first 
game she won, after losing about 50 
times, was against Joseph Asaba, a boy 
who had beaten her before with a tac- 
tic called the Fool's Mate, a humiliat- 
ing scheme that can produce victory in 
as few as four moves. One day Joseph 
wasn't aware that Katende had pre- 
pared Phiona with a defence that would 
capture Joseph's queen. When Phiona 
checkmated Joseph, he began sobbing 
because he had lost to a girl. Katende 
eventually introduced Phiona to Ivan 
Mutesasira and Benjamin Mukumbya, 
two of the project's strongest players, 
who agreed to tutor her. "When I first 
met Phiona, I took it for granted that 
girls are always weak, but I came to 
realize that she could play as well as 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e 5 1 . c o . i n 


The champ at Agape church in Katwe, 
where she learnt to play. 

a boy," Ivan says. "She likes to attack, 
and when you play against her, it feels 
like she's pushing you backwards until 
you have nowhere to move." 

News eventually spread around 
Katwe that Katende, though black, was 
part of an organization run by white 
people, known in Uganda as mzungu, 
and Harriet began hearing disturbing 
rumours. "My neighbours told me that 
if I let Phiona keep playing, mzungu 
would take her away," she says. "But 
I could not afford to feed her. What 
choice did I have?" 

Within a year, Phiona could beat her 
coach, and Katende knew it was time 
for her and the others to face better 
competition. He visited local board- 
ing schools, where children from more 
privileged backgrounds refused to play 
the slum kids. But Katende kept asking 
until ten-year-old Phiona was playing 

against teens in fancy blaz- 
ers, beating them soundly. 
Then she played university 
players, defeating them as 

She learnt through trial 
and error, trained by a 
coach who admitted he 
didn't even know all the 
rules until after starting 
the project. She succeeds 
because she possesses that 
precious chess gene al- 
lowing her to envision the 
board many moves ahead, 
and because she focuses on 
the game as if her life depends on it, 
which in her case might be true. 

During matches at the Olympiad, it 
is not uncommon for 20 minutes to 
elapse without a single move. Phiona 
has spent two matches fidgeting, des- 
perate for her opponents to get on 
with it. Wary after Phiona's break- 
down, Katende is ruing the Uganda 
Chess Federation's decision to place 
Phiona as her team's No. 2 seed, where 
she must face top players. 

Her third match is against a grand- 
master from Egypt, Mona Khaled. 
Pleased by Mona's quick pace, Phiona 
gets lured into her opponent's rhythm 
and plays too fast, leading to fatal er- 
rors. Katende looks worried when 
Phiona concedes, but she recognizes 
that she's been beaten by a better 
player. She walks straight over to 
Katende and says, "Coach, I will be a 
grandmaster someday." 

Phiona's opponent in her fourth 








READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 rea d e r s d i ge st . co. i n 

match, an Angolan, Sonia Rosa- 
lina, keeps staring at Phiona's eyes, 
which Rosalina will later say are the 
most competitive she has faced. At a 
critical moment, Phiona plays too 
passively, not like herself. After more 
than three hours, she grudgingly sub- 
mits, admitting that she didn't have 
her courage when she needed it most. 
She promises herself that she will 
never let that happen again. 

Although Phiona is back in school 
through a grant from Sports Outreach, 
she is just learning to read and write. 
Also, she faces a potential hazard that 
could make her life even more chal- 
lenging: Her mother is constantly ill 
and worries that she is HIV-positive, 
but she is afraid to be tested. Phiona 
has never been tested either. 

Phiona says her dream is to build a 
house outside Katwe for her mother. 
When Harriet is asked if her daughter 
can escape the slum, she says, "I have 
never thought about that." 

Katende, when pressed to describe 
Phiona's realistic blueprint out of 
Katwe, can come up only with a vi- 
sion of starting an academy where 
the chess kids earn money teaching 
children of wealthy families. He says 
he hopes Phiona can blaze a trail out 

of the slum for all the kids to follow. 
To do that, Phiona must produce on 
a world stage like no other Ugandan, 
man or woman, has ever achieved. 

Khanty-Mansiysk is cold and 

dreary. Phiona hates Russian weather 
but loves the hotel room, the clean 
water, the three meals a day. She is 
dreading her return, when she must 
begin scrapping for food again. 

Her opponent for one of her final 
matches is an Ethiopian, Haregeweyn 
Abera, who, like Phiona, is an African 
teenager. Suddenly Phiona feels like 
she is back at Agape church, pushing 
Abera's pieces into retreat until the 
other girl extends her hand in defeat. 
Phiona tries and fails to suppress her 
gap-toothed grin, then rises and skips 
out into the frigid Siberian air. This 
dismissed girl from a dismissed world 
unleashes a blissful shriek into the 
slate grey sky, loud enough to startle 
players still inside the arena. 

Since the original publication of this 
story in Sports Illustrated, Phiona 
Mutesi became the Ugandan 
women's national champion and 
earned a Woman Candidate Master 
title in the 2012 World Chess 
Olympiad in Istanbul. 

I'm single. I often think about my future wife and how lax she's been 

about getting in tOUCh With me. Ted Alexandro, comedian 

I've been married four years now, and it's getting pretty serious. 

Nate Bargatze, comedian 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a de i s d ig e s t . c o . in 


Osama bin Our Films Achyuta 
Laden'* Promote Samanta's 

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ail delivery at our base 
in Japan was irregular at 
best, so everyone would call 
the post office to see if the 
mail had arrived. Tired of the 
constant calls, the postmaster 
announced that he would 
raise a white flag to signal that 
mail had arrived. That idea 
was scrapped after soldiers 
kept calling to ask if the white 

flag was up. Donald Dereadt 

The five-year-old boy at our 

school was from a military 
family: His mother was a 
fighter pilot, and his father 
served in Afghanistan. 

"Do you know my full name? 
he asked me. 

No, I don't," I said. 

It's James Phillip Thomas Steven 
Harold Jackson the Third. But my 
mother calls me Steven. My father's 
full name is James Phillip Thomas 
Steven Harold Jackson the Second." 

"And what does your mother 
call him?" 




getting overtones of potassium nitrate, 
with just a hint of sulphur." 






M. Jackson 

As we set out on patrol in Afghani- 
stan, my platoon leader was torn 
between which route to take. 

"One road will probably get us 
ambushed," he said. "But if we take 
the second, we'll likely run into an ex- 
plosive device. What do you think?" 

I considered our options, then 
gave him my suggestion: "I say we 
take a couple of days off." 

Ryan Hendricks 

Aboard our aircraft carrier, my 
buddy and I were loading equip- 
ment in preparation for setting out 
to sea. One of the items was an 
incredibly heavy air compressor. 
Sweating, we put the compressor 
down to rest. Then my friend had a 
light-bulb moment. 

"No wonder it's so heavy," he said, 
pointing to the gauge. "It's full of air." 

Louie Aragon 

^We will pay ?iooo for your anecdote. 
™Post it to the Editorial address or 
e-mail: editor.india(5)rd.com 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigcst.co.in 






Hassan Rasouli checked into Sunnybrook 

Hospital in Toronto, Canada, to have a brain tumour 
removed on 16 October 2010. The surgery was suc- 
cessful, but the then-59-year-old engineer contracted 
bacterial meningitis and fell into a coma. In January 
2011, Hassan's doctors determined that he was in a 
persistent vegetative state, with virtually no chance 
of regaining consciousness. They recommended his 
feeding tube and ventilator be taken away. 

The Rasouli family, who had emigrated from Iran 
six months earlier, were thrown into turmoil. Daugh- 
ter Mojgan, 29, and her 23-year-old brother, Mehran, 
agonized over letting their father go. Was there really 
no hope? The doctors put great pressure on their 
mother, Parichehr Salasel, to make a decision. A 
doctor in her native country, Salasel refused to give 
up. "We all still felt his presence," says Mojgan. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 






READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 reade rsd igest.CO.i n 


End-of-life protocols in Canada, 
however, are murky. Consent from a 
substitute decision maker — in this 
case, Hassan's wife — is required to 
pull the plug; but if doctors believe 
there is an ethical justification for al- 
lowing a patient to die, they can turn 
to a specialized tribunal to get permis- 
sion to discontinue life-extending 
treatment. Hassan's doctors insisted 
he was suffering needlessly and that 
they were prepared to act in his best 
interests. The Rasoulis won a court 
order confirming their right to decide 
Hassan's fate, but the doctors ap- 
pealed. They lost that appeal and took 
their case to the Canadian Supreme 


Then something unexpected hap- 
pened: Hassan started to show 
improvement. Last summer, he was 
blinking to words spoken in Farsi and, 
according to Mojgan, could give a 
weak thumbs-up. Sunnybrook's neur- 
ology department reassessed him, up- 
grading his condition to minimally 
conscious, but his doctors pressed 
ahead with their case anyway, hoping 
a victory would force changes in 
existing life-support protocols. With 
court arguments looming, Mojgan, a 
master's student in urban planning, 
wondered if more concrete proof 
existed of her father's consciousness. 
In January 2011, Mojgan came across 
a paper by 46-year-old Cambridge 
University neuroscientist Adrian 
Owen. For 15 years, Owen had 
been using functional magnetic 
resonance imaging (fMRI) ma- 
chines — which record blood 
flow to measure brain activ- 
ity — in an attempt to confirm 
consciousness in coma patients. 
During a 2010 study, he placed 
54 patients in his scanner and 
asked each of them to imagine 
playing tennis, and to then im- 
agine navigating through their 
homes — tasks that create dra- 
matically different patterns on 
fMRI scans. Of the 54 patients, 
five were able to respond to 
Owen's commands. One of his 
most successful cases — a 22- 
year-old dubbed "Patient 23" 
who had been in a vegetative 
state for five years following a 
car accident — performed the 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.iii 

task so well, he was able to answer 
simple questions by thinking of tennis 
for "yes" and his house for "no." It was 
a stunning breakthrough: Owen was 
communicating with a man whom 
many would have deemed as good 
as dead. 

Mojgan's mind raced as she typed 
Owen's name into Google. Among the 
search results she found an announce- 
ment: Owen had relocated to the Uni- 
versity of Western Ontario in London, 
Canada, a mere two-hour drive from 

at the university. He decided to move 
most of his team to Ontario after the 
university offered him the post of 
Canada Excellence Research Chair in 
Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging, 
a position that comes with $20 million 
in funding. "Once we'd established we 
could reveal consciousness in patients 
that had been lying there for years," 
he adds, "continuing the research was 
an easy decision." 

Consciousness disorders are as- 
sessed using the Coma Recovery 


patients may possess consciousness but no 


Toronto. Three months later, the neur- 
ologist was at Sunny brook, question- 
ing the family about Hassan's condition. 
After obtaining the hospital's permis- 
sion and a referral from Hassan's 
doctor, Owen put him in a scanner. 

According to Mojgan, Owen called 
two weeks later with the news: Her 
father showed signs of consciousness. 
He explained that, although nothing 
had happened when her father was 
asked to imagine walking around his 
house, he emitted a faint signal when- 
ever he was asked to imagine playing 
tennis. For Mojgan and her family, it 
was a moment of indescribable 

"You only need one reportedly vege- 
tative patient to show a response like 
this to know there are others out 
there," says Owen, sitting in his office 

Scale-Revised (CRS-R), which estab- 
lishes a variety of behavioural mark- 
ers to determine severity. It begins 
with the "locked-in": those who are 
awake and aware, but can only com- 
municate using tiny movements — say, 
by wiggling a finger. Next is "min- 
imally conscious": patients who 
occasionally react to auditory, visual 
or tactile cues, but are otherwise non- 
responsive. Finally, we arrive at "per- 
sistent vegetative" patients, who show 
no signs of consciousness. These in- 
dividuals are typically "warehoused" 
in intensive care and are never given 
the opportunities to communicate set 
aside for those with less severe 
impairments, leading family members 
to consider end-of-life options. In 
other words, diagnosis can mean the 
difference between life and death. 
Although Owen contends that the 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r sd i g e st . < o . i n 


CRS-R is an extremely useful rubric, 
he cautions that there are two flaws 
in the way we currently evaluate pa- 
tients. First, studies have shown that 
human observation can be wrong up 
to 40 percent of the time. Minimally 
conscious patients typically weave in 
and out of awareness; they may be 
able to blink an eye for an hour on 
Tuesday, then lie completely un- 
responsive on Friday. 

But there's an even more obvious — 
and sometimes fatal — flaw: Who's to 

tion to the words "tennis" and "house." 
In response, his Cambridge colleagues 
set out to prove that only a conscious 
person could perform the spoken re- 
quests. They anesthetized healthy 
volunteers, placed them in the scan- 
ner and asked them to imagine play- 
ing tennis. The volunteers could not. 

Judy Hies is a professor of neurology 

and the Canada Research Chair in 
Neuroethics at the University of Brit- 
ish Columbia in Vancouver. She works 


will uphold the court order that has 


say that all locked-in or minimally 
conscious patients are able to wiggle 
a finger or visually track an object? Is 
it not conceivable, says Owen, that 
some patients might possess con- 
sciousness but no ability to move? "I'd 
suggest this to people, and they'd say, 
'The patient would convey it in some 
way. We would know'." Owen laughs 
and shakes his head. "And I'd say, 'Yes, 
but how?' " 

In 2006, Owen published his suc- 
cesses using the tennis/house method 
in the journal Science. Some readers 
were skeptical. One psychologist, in a 
letter to the journal, suggested that 
"brain activity was unconsciously 
triggered by the last word of the in- 
structions, which always referred to 
the item to be imagined." In short, 
Owen's patients may not have been 
conscious, but had an automatic reac- 

with Owen, puzzling over what she 
calls the "gnarly" questions his stud- 
ies provoke, including the possibility 
doctors may soon be given more dis- 
cretionary authority over whether to 
halt treatment for vegetative patients 
at the very moment neuroscience 
seems poised to significantly alter our 
understanding of consciousness. 

"Important concerns about the reli- 
ability of the science still have to be 
answered," Illes says, "before we 
begin integrating this technology into 
clinical care." She contends that, in 
the future, Owen's tool may be used 
in court cases concerning end-of-life 
decisions by bringing evidence to the 
table. Owen's findings won't need to 
be used in the Rasouli case because 
he has shown responsiveness in more 
traditional ways, but "regardless of 
which side wins," she explains, "the 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.CO.il) 

Rasouli case highlights the need for 
Owen's technology." 

Toronto health-care lawyer Mark 
Handelman agrees that Owen's 
method has the potential to upend 
critical-care protocols. "If the technol- 
ogy works, then of course it will be 
used in this way," he says. "Science 
always complicates law, but science 
also improves law." 

Even so, families who have already 
followed through on "do not resusci- 
tate" orders for their loved ones could 
receive Owen's research like a punch 
in the gut. A study in the Canadian 
Medical Association Journal examining 
720 patients with severe traumatic 
brain injury found that 32 percent of 
those patients died in hospital, with 70 
percent of those deaths due to with- 
drawal of life-support. However, the 
use of fMRIs may swing the pendulum 
towards overcautiousness, encouraging 
families and physicians to keep barely- 
there loved ones alive. 

Handelman points out that this 
would come at a cost — a limited num- 
ber of intensive-care beds and the 
annual price tag per bed for around- 
the-clock treatment is almost $1 mil- 
lion. It's easy, he says, to imagine the 
debate Owen's discovery will provoke: 
"If Dad, who will never wake from his 
coma, is in intensive care, whose heart 
surgery isn't taking place?" 

For the Rasouli family, it's enough 
just to know that Hassan is aware. 
"Even being in a minimally conscious 
state, it means improvement," says 
Mojgan, who was preparing for the 
case, which the Canadian Supreme 
Court heard recently. She believes 
doctors shouldn't have the right to 
overrule a family's wishes, and hopes 
the judges will uphold the court order 
that has so far allowed her father to 
stay alive. "A ruling in our favour would 
help people like my father," she adds. 
"He always said, 'Don't give up. Where 
there's life, there's hope'." 


At a family gathering, one of my relatives suggested a word contest 
and asked everyone to come up with palindromes. "Words that read the 
same both ways are known as palindromes," he explained. 

"I know one, I know one!" said my eight-year-old daughter Gitanjali, 
raising her hand. "Mom! Daddy says she will never change even if you 

turn her upside down." Vidya Vasudevan, Chennai 

My husband's company got a new country manager from Finland. At a 
recent conference, my husband told a customer, "Do you know, we have 
a new boss and he's Finnish." 

"What!" the customer replied, "He just joined and he is already 

finished?" Juhi Sharma, Kota, Rajasthan 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r sd i g e st . c o . i n 


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The Khasi tribespeople of Cherrapunjee are no strangers 
I to rain. More than 10,000 of them inhabit the lush green 

region, the state of Meghalaya, straddles the Bangladeshi 
i border and holds a somewhat dubious claim to fame. 
Meghalaya, in Sanskrit, translates to the "abode of 
clouds." It is one of the wettest places on earth. 
j* Here, hilly terrain funnels both southwest and northeast 
monsoon rain clouds over a relatively small area, resulting 
in dramatic and seemingly endless showers. Between 1973 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY S013 r e a de rs dige S t 

_ b i 

and 2010, Cherrapunjee received an 
average annual rainfall of nearly 12 
metres, edging out Mount Waialeale 
in Hawaii as the rainiest place on Earth. 
Cherrapunjee also holds the world 
record for the most rainfall in a single 
year; in 12 months to July 1861, over 26 
metres fell. 

To live in such conditions requires 
tenacity and ingenuity. I travelled 
there last May to see one of the most 
beguiling solutions for myself. 

This place is remote. After an hour- 
long flight from Kolkata to Guwahati, 
I spend six hours in a cramped taxi 
on congested roads before finally 
reaching Cherrapunjee. From there I 
find a guide to lead me on the 90- 
minute trek from the Sohsarat village, 
down slippery moss-covered rocks, 
to a shady valley where I find 58-year- 

old village headman Bakhot Phanrang 
busy at work. 

"Khubleil" Phanrang says with a 
smile, using the common Khasi 
greeting meaning "God bless." 
"Welcome to Ummunoi, one of the 
oldest bridges in Meghalaya. We 
would have liked to have built a steel 
bridge but we had no money!" 

A treacherous combination of dense 
forests, steep terrain and a monsoon 
season that lasts almost half the year 
makes it hard to get around here, 
especially for those villagers who 
must cross surging rivers to access 
their gardens or collect firewood. 

Each family in Phanrang's village 
has a plot of land where they grow bay 
leaves or black pepper and all rely on 
this bridge to cross the river to access 
their gardens. Six days a week Phan- 
rang descends 700 metres into the 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readcrsdigcst.co.in 

jungle with family members to gather 
betel nuts, pepper, tipui (a local 
medicinal plant) and bay leaves, which 
they sell at the weekly market. 

Faced with these challenges, many 
generations ago — in this culture with 
no written history, no one knows quite 
when — the Khasi forged a canny pact 
with nature. Someone conceived the 
idea of a resilient and robust alterna- 
tive to hand-constructed bamboo and 
wood bridges, which were often eroded 
or destroyed each rainy season. 

I have come here to see firsthand 
the jingkieng deingjri, or "bridge of the 
rubber tree." There are 11 functioning 
living bridges in this district and each 
has been fashioned by tying secondary 
roots from the Ficus elastica tree to 
bamboo trunks laid across the stream. 
As the roots grow from rubber trees 
planted on each bank, the Khasi use the 

From far left: a Khasi woman crosses 

Nongriat's "double decker" bridge; 

an outside view of Cherrapunjee's 

valley; local boys from Nongriat. 

bamboo trunks like a scaffold to guide 
roots of the living plant across the gap. 
Villagers now also use hollowed betel 
tree trunks as an alternative to 
bamboo, threading the roots inside to 
absorb the decaying trees' nutrients, 
accelerating their own growth. 

As a 'mother' rubber tree on each 
bank grows and the roots eventually 
need to be interlaced, villagers train 
more roots from the same trees to 
form handrails that run along the 
length of the bridge. They thread roots 
on the bridge's floor together to form 
a sturdy base, and any gaps are filled 
in with stones that eventually become 
embedded into the bridge floor. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 rcadersdigest.co.in 


The rubber trees, which are well 
adapted to heavy rainfall and soil 
erosion, continue to grow stronger, and 
within 15 to 20 years a new bridge can 
support the weight of its minders. 

Offering a quick tour of the engineer- 
ing that holds up the 17-metre Ummu- 
noi root bridge, Phanrang explains 
that tending to it requires the villag- 
ers' continuous attention. "There are 
450 people in our village and at some 
point nearly all of them, men, women 
and children, have contributed to 
repairing or strengthening the bridge. 
Whenever somebody crosses the 
bridge, they may help by tying or tight- 
ening a root that has come free, or 
helping to pull new roots across the 
bridge." Today Phanrang is repairing 
a handrail that has worked loose. 

With knowledge passed down to 
children and young adults accompany- 
ing their parents on outings to the gar- 
den, the root bridges not only connect 
two pieces of land but also serve as a 
cherished cultural heirloom, whose 
roots connect the past with the present. 
Phanrang and his wife have nine 
children of their own, so they are as 
invested as any in ensuring the living 
bridges are carefully maintained. 

"Our bridge is the strongest because 
it is one of the oldest," explains Phan- 
rang. Without a written history, the 
Khasi struggle to pinpoint the bridge's 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r G a d e r s d i ge S t . c O . / n 




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exact age, but consensus in the village 
is that it's some 150 years old. Khasi 
legend has it that a man called Sri 
Snaton Chyne first conceived of the 
idea for a root bridge one afternoon 
after finishing his garden work. 

"Resting by the river, he had the 
idea to plant a rubber tree so that fu- 
ture generations would be able to 
cross the water more easily," says 
Phanrang. "A lot of villagers ques- 
tioned whether it could be achieved, 
and some thought it was silly because 
it would take so long to make. After 
planting the tree, many years passed 

Clockwise from above: the 20-metre- 

long Umshiang bridge — a third tier is 

planned; the Wha Simtung wire 

suspension bridge; a different kind 

of holiday resort; Bakhot Phanrang. 

before the roots were long enough to 
tie to the bamboo and guide it across 
the water." 

Many years after the first root was 
laid, the bridge was finally usable. 
Unfortunately, Snaton had passed 
away years before, so he never got to 
walk across his creation. 

While Ummunoi may be one of the 
oldest root bridges, the most famous 
is the impressive Umshiang "double 
decker" suspension bridge found in 
the village of Nongriat, which lies at 
the bottom of a picturesque valley 
that's home to some 150 people. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a de rs dige s t . c o. in 


Part of the charm of visiting Non- 
griat, I discover, is the seven-hour 
return trek down the side of a steep 
mountain. We pass through spectacu- 
lar scenery, including two smaller 
root bridges and an adrenaline-fuelled 
walk across the Wha Simtung wire 
suspension bridge, which replaced 
a root bridge that had decayed 
and died. 

Generations old, the double decker 
is one of a kind. It's an impressive 20 
metres long and I'm told it can accom- 
modate up to 50 people at once. Aside 
from villagers crossing the bridge on 
the way to their gardens, children come 

Left: Phanrang doesn't need the root 
bridge to go fruit gathering. 

to swim in the fresh water, while adults 
do their laundry on the river bank. 

Why two levels? Andreas Mawa, a 
primary school teacher in the village 
explains: "For a long while there was 
only one level. But one year we had 
an exceptionally wet rainy season, 
with water so high that it touched the 
bridge. After that it was decided we 
had to build another level higher up." 
Now that villagers can see the bridge's 
tourist potential, plans are afoot to 
add a third level. 

"If you're born here, you think this 
is the world; you take for granted just 
how special these bridges really are," 
says Denis P. Rayen, owner and 
manager of the Cherrapunjee Holiday 
Resort. A retired Tamilian banker, 
Rayen now wears many hats: resort 
owner, nature lover and tourism pro- 
moter. After marrying a Khasi woman, 
he relocated to Laitkynsew village, 
20km south of Cherrapunjee. 

"When I first arrived here in 2000 
and began exploring the various 
bridges, the locals couldn't believe that 
anyone would be interested in seeing 
these bridges," explains Rayen. 

Although his resort is within walk- 
ing distance of the Ummunoi bridge, 
it took Rayen six months to convince 
a tourist to go on a trek with him to 
see it. Today it's the prime reason for 
visiting the area — well, that and the 
rain. "The rain is the most beautiful 
thing about Cherrapunjee," says 
Rayen. "You wouldn't think it, but 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 re ad e rs d i gest . CO . i n 

being in the centre of a monsoon is 
very romantic." 

Rayen has become a rain aficionado: 
he and his wife Carmela have been 
tracking and recording Cherrapunjee's 
rainfall for the past 12 years. 

While local Khasi are unsure of exactly 
when and how the tradition of root 
bridges started, Rayen believes the 
phenomenon could go back 500 years. 
"When I arrived, I came across a 
root bridge where there were with- 
ered remains of a previous bridge that 
had all but washed away. It's been 
a part of their life for so long they 

From top: a local Khasi woman; 

detailed look at the natural 

structure of the Umshiang bridge. 

don't consider it special." 

The first recorded mention of Cher- 
rapunjee's root bridges is found in the 
1844 Journal of the Asiatic Society of 
Bengal, where British Lieutenant H. 
Yule marvels about them. 

Speculation aside, the real draw of 
these bridges is something that speaks 
to us on a deeper level. As Rayen puts 
it, "These bioengineering wonders are 
eloquent testimonies to man living 
in harmony with nature." 

Writer Drew Magary on meeting singer Justin Bieber: "His voice is so 
high, it sounds like a ringtone." source: gq 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 rea c/e r s d igc S t . C O. i n 






• . 








A high-powered working mother writes about 
her decision to leave a top government job for 
more time at home — and the fireworks start 

was one of the biggest cultural blowups of 
last year. Princeton University professor and 
former top US government official Anne-Marie 
Slaughter left no hot button unpushed in her 
provocatively titled Atlantic cover story, "Why 
Women Still Can't Have It All."* Part confessional, part sociological 
analysis, part call to arms, the 12,000-word tour de force gave fiery new 
life to an age-old, ongoing debate and thrust its author into the centre 
of a media maelstrom. The response to the piece, in which Slaughter 
explained how she gave up her job as a policy adviser to Secretary of 

* To find the article online, google: "atlantic anne-marie slaughter." 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 



State Hillary Clinton "because 
of my desire to be with my 
family," was immediate and 
enormous. More than one 
million people read the es- 
say online, according to the 
Atlantic. Women of every age 
and background (and plenty 
of men) let Slaughter know exactly 
what they thought of her and her ideas 
about women, work, and family. Eight 
weeks after publication, the Atlantic 
website had logged more than 2400 

comments, with new ones 
posted every day and no end 
in sight. In the same period, 
the piece (which Slaughter 
will expand into a book) was 
recommended on Facebook 
over 198,000 times. The only 
person who hasn't weighed 
in on the essay, it would seem, is the 
toddler popping out of the briefcase 
on the Atlantic cover. Here are a few 
of Slaughter's key points, along with 
some reader reactions. 



I still strongly believe that women can 'have it all' (and that men 
can too). I believe that we can 'have it all at the same time.' But not 
today, not with the way [our] economy and society are currently 


"What, exactly, is 'having it all,' any- 
way? Rising to the top of your pro- 
fession and yet still being able to be 
home in time for dinner and make it 
to all the soccer games? That seems 
impossible ... I don't know, exactly, 
where my career (or my personal life, 
for that matter) is headed. But I do 
know that 'having it all' sounds really 

exhaUSting."D oree Shcifrir, onbuzzfeed.com Cheryl King, on the Reader's Digest Facebook page 

"The real problem is expecting more 
than a standard workweek for anyone, 
regardless of gender." 

Erica Drake, ontheatlantic.com 

"I'm not Super Mom; I can't do every- 
thing. It took some time to learn to 
be OK with that, but I would rather 
have quality time with my kids when 
I am home." 

" 'Having it all' is such a greedy, self- 
ish, consumerist term, implying ... that 
having more stuff, more experiences, 
more money, will make you a happy 

person." Richard_Ewelh4, ontheatlantic.com 

"We are where we are because the 
system is broken, not because women 
lack the motivation or ambition to 

australianreader, on theatlantic.com 





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reader's digest February 2013 rea ders digest. co. in 


"I am well aware that the majority of ... women face problems far 
greater than any discussed in this article ... Many of these women are 
worrying not about having it all, but rather about holding on to what 
they have" 


"Most of the women I know person- 
ally do not have the high-powered 
'glamorous' careers that seem to get 
all the media attention. What I'd like 
to know is when do we who are pink- 
collar workers finally get our issues 
addressed? Have it all? Heck, if we 
had the kind of jobs the author had, 
we could freaking buy it all!" 

La Dee D ah, ontheatlantic.com 

"I don't see Ms Slaughter as entitled 
or spoiled. I see a hardworking woman 
who had an inaccurate view of what it 
means to be a parent." 

Barb Plunkett, ontheatlantic.com 

"I am a single mom of two boys with 
no support from their father. I do two 

jobs, besides being a mom. I wake up 
at 3:30am, work online as a tutor from 
4 to 6:30am, then get them ready and 
send them to school. Then I do the 
housework ... I start tutoring again 
from 6pm till midnight ... The one 
thing that is killing me is not having 

enough Sleep." Ketty, onrd.com 

"Our luxuries are measured in terms of 
man-hours. Dinner out for our family 
is four hours at work for me or six for 
[my husband]. Disney World is 80/120 
hours, respectively ... We don't keep 
up with the Smiths, much less the 
Joneses, but that lets my husband and 
me work hours that still allow us to be 
involved with our family." 

Stephanie Swalwell, ontheatlantic.com 







Rebecca Traister, on salon.com 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e st . c o . i n 




"I do not believe fathers love their children any less than mothers do, but 
men seem more likely to choose their job at a cost to their family..." 


"What I hope for, one day, is that fa- 
thers feel the same remorse mothers 
do when they have to leave their chil- 
dren every morning, that fathers feel as 
consumed as mothers do about mak- 
ing sure their children eat right, get the 

right education, etc." Liz Craft, onrd.com 

"Believe it or not, a whole heap of both 
women and men think that women 
and men should take the roles in the 
household that suit them best ... rather 

than having their genitalia dictate 
what their role is going to be." 

Alex Mar thews, ontheatlantic.com 

"All of us work too hard. We all short- 
change our kids ... We are all pretty 
much a mess when it comes to bal- 
ance. The difference is women agonize 
over the menu, and men just order and 
live with it ... Slaughter is right that 
for most women, the juggle just feels 



Dahlia Lithwick, onslate.com 


For two years, I never left the office early enough to go to any stores 
other than those open 24 hours ... 




"Why do I want government, public 
policy, and the businesses that serve 
me to be run by stressed-out, miser- 
able people who have no connection to 
their own families and the communities 

around them?" SHarshD, on theatlantic.com 

"The problem she identified — the stag- 
gering speedup of jobs at the top — is 
not a woman's problem. It's the pre- 
dictable and unavoidable result of the 
increasing inequality of our economy." 

Linda Hirshman, on theatlantic.com 

"Young women need stories of struggle 
and sacrifice like a hole in the head. 
Given economic realities, they need to 
stick with their jobs, and fanning flames 
of angst and guilt does them a great 

disservice." Sylvia Ann Hewlett, onhbr.org 

"As a child of the 70s and '80s, I re- 
member all too well defending my 
mother for working at home as a stay- 
at-home mom, when she worked just as 
hard as my father did at his job!" 

Daisy Mabel, onslate.com 


reader's digest February 2013 readersdigest.co.in 





Dctdthebaker, on the New York Times Motherlode blog 


"I realized that I didn't just need to go home. Deep down, I wanted to 
go home." 


"I think it's fantastic that the modern 
feminist movement is moving away 
from the 'me, me, me' and 'self-real- 
ization' shtick and instead recogniz- 
ing that the traditional 'female' value 
of putting family first is invaluable." 

Ellie Swctnson, ontheatlantic.com 

"Enough op-eds from Marie Antoi- 
nette. Let's work on the problem of 
redesigning our public institutions 
and policies to reflect the change in 
our culture. Women work. Men work. 
Children need care." 

Lisa Duggan, ontheparentdujour.com 

"Feminists are not a dying breed. It's 
not about thinking that women and 
men are the same. It's about wanting 
a world full of equality for women in 
an equal partnership with men." 

Marion Lip shuts, ontheatlantic.com 

"Why must we focus on domestic 
happiness? Isn't the whole point of 
an enlightened, liberated life to exist 
outside the duelling poles of the office 
and the kitchen, to be more than just 
worker or mother, understanding that 
compromise must be made across the 

board?" Lauren Sandler, onslate.com 


Caitlyn, our four-year-old niece, lived on a farm and was watching her 
dad and the vet work with some cattle. When the vet's hat fell off, she 
jumped down and picked it up but continued searching for something. 
Finally, she handed the bald vet his hat saying, "Here's your hat, but 
I couldn't find your hair." Boni schiitroth 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 ; e a d e r s d ige s t . c o . i n 


digest, co. in 



READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge St . c o . i n 


- r 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest. 


The Baha'f House of Worship in New Delhi is 
also known as the Lotus Temple. Composed 
of 27 marble "petals," it is surrounded by nine 
ponds. Designed by Iranian-born architect 
Fariborz Sahba (who now lives in Canada), 
the temple has attracted over 70 million 
visitors since its 1986 opening. The Baha'ism, 
which has its origins in Iran, emphasizes the 
essential equality of human beings and the 
abolition of prejudice. The faith, which has 
two million followers in India, is based on the 
wisdoms of various Divine Teachers, who 
include Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, 
Jesus and Mohammed. Photographer 
Nicolas Chorier shot these images from a 
camera affixed to a remote-controlled kite. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r sd ige St . c o . i n 




READER'S DlG-&sy*6€BRUARY 2013 re a de r s dige s t . c o . / n 

• • • 


• • • 

• • 

• • 

• • • • 


from Marie Claire 

















Contrary to what 
was previously 
believed — that all 
it really caused was 
tooth decay — new 
research maintains 
that the sweet 
stuff is so bad for 
our health, some 

experts want it 
regulated like a drug 

s sugar worse for you than, 
say, cocaine? According to 
a 2012 article in the journal 
Nature, it's a toxic substance 
that should be regulated like 
tobacco and alcohol. Stud- 
ies show that too much sugar 
(both in the form of natural su- 
crose and high-fructose corn syrup) 
not only helps make us fat, it also 
wreaks havoc on our liver, mucks up 
our metabolism, impairs brain func- 
tion, and may leave us susceptible to 
serious ailments. Experts say raising 
awareness isn't enough, especially 
when so many of our food options 
contain sugar. "It's like watching a 
train wreck in slow motion," says 
co-author Laura Schmidt, PhD, a 
researcher at the University of 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e s t . c o . i n 


California, San Francisco. 

Nevertheless, after hearing the 
news, many of us shrugged and turned 
back to our cupcakes. Yet we may 
already be feeling the effects of too 
much sugar without even realizing it. 
Here's how to beat the most common 
issues to prevent long-term damage 
and feel your best right now. 

Stress Eating 

For a pick-me-up, you may inhale 
a bag of toffees or gobble up a box 
of cookies. But the impulse goes 
deeper. To examine the hold sugar 
can have over us, substance-abuse 
researchers have performed 
brain scans on subjects eat- 

"^^^ ^F 

Sweet Shock: 
Is Sugar Making 

Us Obese? 

■ GS y say experts who contend that excess 
sugar revs our rate of fat storage. Research sug- 
gests that sugar has unique metabolic properties 
that prime your body to gain weight, especially 
dangerous belly fat linked to heart disease and 
diabetes. Your liver metabolizes much of the sugar 
you eat and converts excess to fat. Too much fat in 
the liver accelerates insulin resistance. 

Bllt David Katz, director of the Yale University 
Prevention Research Center, cautions against 
overly demonizing sugar. "Too much sugar is a 
serious problem, but it's not the only problem in 
our modern diet." Excess starches, such as artifi- 
cially sweetened donuts, could also have this 
effect, argues Dr Katz. What everyone agrees on: 
Minimize added sugar and processed foods. 

Lauren Gelman 

ing something sweet. What they've 
seen resembles the mind of a drug 
addict: When subjects taste sugar, 
the brain lights up in the same regions 
as it would in an alcoholic drinking 
a bottle of gin. Dopamine — the so- 
called reward chemical — spikes and 
reinforces the desire to have more. 
(Sugar also fuels the calming hormone 

The Fix Many of us are more likely 
to binge when stressed. That said, 
a cookie a couple of times a week 
is fine, but on most days, go for a 
bowl of oats with no more than a 
tablespoon of brown sugar, suggests 
Jeffrey Fortuna, PhD, a health 
and behaviour lecturer at Cali- 
fornia State University. 
The whole grains fill you 
up, and the sweetness 
can satisfy you while rais- 
ing serotonin slightly. 

Brain Fog 

Blanking out in the middle 
of a meeting? Research 
out of the University of Cali- 
fornia, Los Angeles (UCLA), 
suggests that too much 
sugar forms free radicals 
in the brain and compro- 
mises nerve cells' abil- 
ity to communicate. This 
could have repercussions 
on how well we remember 
instructions, process ideas, 
and handle our moods, 
says Fernando Gomez- 
Pinilla, PhD, author of the 
UCLA study. 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge st . co. i n 

The Fix Stay under the American 
Heart Association limit of nine tea- 
spoons a day for men, five for women. 
Read labels and nutrition informa- 
tion and make wiser choices: a black 
coffee and plain yogurt with walnuts, 
sweetened with a teaspoon of honey 
is definitely better than a regular latte 
and donut. 

Aging Skin 

Sugar contributes to premature ag- 
ing, just as cigarettes and UV rays do. 
When skin support structures colla- 
gen and elastin break down from sun 
or other free-radical exposure, cells 
try to repair themselves. But this pro- 
cess slows down with age. And when 
sugar is present in the skin, it forms 
cross-links with amino acids that 
may have been damaged by free radi- 
cals. These cross-links jam the repair 
mechanism and, over time, leave you 
with prematurely old-looking skin. 
The Fix Once cross-links form, they 
won't unhitch, so keep sugar intake 
to as close to zero as you can. "It's 

the enemy," says William Danby, a 
dermatologist with a medical college 
in New Hampshire, USA. Avoid soft 
drinks and processed pastries, and 
trade sugar packets for cinnamon 
for your coffee — it seems to slow 
down cross-linking, as do cloves, 
ginger, and garlic. 

A Sluggish Workout 

Muscles mostly use carbohydrates for 
fuel because they break down into glu- 
cose, a simple sugar that can kick-start 
your morning jog. But prepackaged 
snacks touting "natural sweeteners" 
may contain just fructose, a type of 
sugar that is mostly metabolized in the 
liver, not the muscles. This can result 
in bloating or even diarrhea. 
The Fix Have a glucose-packed 
snack with minimal fructose before 
exercise, says Richard Johnson, pro- 
fessor of medicine at the Univer- 
sity of Colorado, USA. Try a sports 
drink or an energy bar with a mod- 
est amount of sugar an hour before a 
vigorous workout. 

300 WEST 57TH ST., NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10019. 


Shopping in a supermarket, my friend spotted a pregnant woman 
who looked ready to give birth. She ran to the manager's office 
and screamed, "Do something! Her water's broken! I can see water 
at her feet!" 

Returning a week later, she bumped into the manager. "So did the 
woman give birth?" she asked. 

"Yes," he replied. "To a large frozen chicken that was hidden up 

her shirt." Brenda Brennan 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e i s d ige s t . c o . i n 


A former slave sends his "Old Master 

' ' -:. and a bill 

from lettersofnote.com 

anuary 1, 2013, marked the 150th anniversary 
of the Emancipation Proclamation. This ex- 
ecutive order, passed by US President Abraham 
Lincoln during the American Civil War that was 
fought over slavery, declared "that all persons held 
as slaves within the rebellious states are, and hence- 
forward shall be free." 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 T e a d e r s d i ge st . c o . / n 

Jourdon Anderson 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 

One man who took full advantage of 
his new freedom was Jourdon An- 
derson, a slave who fled his abusive 
"Master," Col. Patrick Anderson, in 
Tennessee, to settle in Ohio as a free 
man. Shortly after the Civil War, the 
colonel beckoned Jourdon back to 
the failing plantation. Jourdon sent 
a droll reply in his place. 

Dayton, Ohio, 7 August 1865 

mt s£Jt>st'l I got your letter and was 
glad to find that you had not forgotten 
Jourdon, and that you wanted me to 
come back and live with you again, 
promising to do better for me than 
anybody else can. I have often felt un- 
easy about you. I thought the Yankees 
would have hung you long before this 
for harbouring Rebs* they found at 
your house. I suppose they never heard 
about your going to Colonel Martin's 

me good to go back to the dear old 
home again and see Miss Mary and 
Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, 
and Lee. Give my love to them all, and 
tell them I hope we will meet in the 
better world, if not in this. I would 
have gone back to see you all when I 
was working in the Nashville Hospi- 
tal, but one of the neighbours told me 
that Henry intended to shoot me if he 
ever got a chance. 

I want to know particularly what the 
good chance is you propose to give 
me. I am doing tolerably well here. I 
get twenty-five dollars a month, with 
victuals and clothing; have a comfort- 
able home for Mandy, the folks call 
her Mrs Anderson; and the children — 
Milly, Jane, and Grundy — go to school 
and are learning well. The teacher says 
Grundy has a head for a preacher. 
We are kindly treated. Sometimes 
we overhear others saying, "Them 
coloured people were slaves" down 
in Tennessee. The children feel hurt 
when they hear such remarks, but I tell 
them it was no disgrace in Tennessee 
to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many 
darkeys would have been proud, as I 

£ 4nAs0t 

to kill the Union soldier that was left 
by his company in their stable. 

Although you shot at me twice 
before I left you, I did not want to 
hear of your being hurt. It would do 

* Rebel soldiers fighting for the southern states 
trying to secede from the United States. 

used to be, to call you Master. 

Now, if you will write and say what 
wages you will give me, I will be better 
able to decide whether it would be to 
my advantage to move back again. 

As to my freedom, which you say 
I can have, there is nothing to be 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge st . c o . i n 





gained on that score, as I got my 
free papers in 1864. Mandy says 
she would be afraid to go back 
without some proof that you were 
disposed to treat us justly and 
kindly, and we have concluded to 
test your sincerity by asking you 
to send us our wages for the time 
we served you. This will make us 
forget and forgive old scores and 
rely on your justice and friend- 
ship in the future. I served you 
faithfully for thirty-two years, and 
Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five 
dollars a month for me, and two dol- 
lars a week for Mandy, our earnings 
would amount to eleven thousand 
six hundred and eighty dollars. Add 
to this the interest for the time our 
wages have been kept back, and de- 
duct what you paid for our clothing, 
and three doctor's visits to me, and 
pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the 
balance will show what we are in 
justice entitled to. Please send the 
money by Adams's Express, in care 
of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If 
you fail to pay us for faithful labours 
in the past, we can have little faith in 
your promises in the future. 

We trust the good Maker has opened 
your eyes to the wrongs which you and 
your fathers have done to me and my 
fathers in making us toil for you for 
generations without recompense. Here, 
I draw my wages every Saturday night; 
but in Tennessee, there was never any 
payday for the negroes, any more than 
for the horses and cows. Surely there 
will be a day of reckoning for those 
who defraud the labourer of his hire. 

In answering this letter, please state 
if there would be any safety for my 
Milly and Jane, who are now grown 
up, and both good-looking girls. You 
know how it was with poor Matilda and 
Catherine. I would rather stay here and 
starve — and die, if it come to that — than 
have my girls brought to shame by the 
violence and wickedness of their young 
Masters. You will also please state if 
there has been any schools opened for 
the coloured children in your neigh- 
bourhood. The great desire of my life 
now is to give my children an education 
and have them form virtuous habits. 

Say howdy to George Carter, and 
thank him for taking the pistol from 
you when you were shooting at me. 

Things did not end well for Colonel 
Anderson. His crops failed, forcing 
him to sell his plantation for very 
little. He died two years later, at age 
44. Jourdon survived him by nearly 
four decades, living well into his 70s. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d / g e s t . c o . / n 


with new 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 re ad e rs d i ge s t . co . i n 







visit to the 
arkets and 

vendors in the 


a colourful 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 20 readersdigest.co.in 

Don't panic, don't run," a soft German 
voice says over my shoulder. "Above 
all, don't change your mind." 

I hesitate. We are talking about 
crossing Dinh Tien Hoang Street, a 
busy street in the Old Quarter 
of Hanoi. On the road a steady 
stream of motorbikes, rick- 
shaws, and the occasional SUV 
bear down from both direc- 
tions. Change your mind the 
way a deer does, the German 
meant, and you'll be steam- 
rollered. Walk carefully but 
purposefully into the flow, and 
you'll be kayaking. 

I'd arrived in Vietnam with 
my iPhone, a couple of 
changes of clothes, and little 
else. My idea was to go cheap, 
keep it exotic, and try some- 
thing new. I was determined 
to see as much of Hanoi in 
a week as possible, relying 
on serendipity rather than 

(SEPT '11), © 201 1 BY NATIONAL 

guidebooks to find my way. 

I make my way across the boulevard 
with the helpful German beside me. 
Streams of vehicles part around us like 
changing currents. Strangely, nobody 
honks, and we reach the far kerb front- 
ing Hoan Kiem Lake. "Thanks, man," 
I turn to say, but the German has dis- 

Hoan Kiem Lake anchors this city 
of 2.7 million in northern Vietnam. 
The name means "Lake of the Re- 
stored Sword," referring to the weapon 
a legendary giant turtle gave General 
Le Loi to drive out Chinese occupiers 
in the 15 th century. The dark green ex- 
panse of water is still populated by 
turtles. The city celebrated its 1000th 


Top: The Tran Quoc Pagoda dating to the 
6th century towers over a temple 
beside West Lake. Bottom: People on 
the red bridge at Hoan Kiem Lake. 

Hoan Kiem Lake 


—"Lake of the 
Restored Sword 
— anchors this city 
of 27 million in 
northern Vietnam. 

anniversary in 2010. It was in the year 
1010 that the country's ruler, Ly Thai 
To, moved the capital here. I watch 
crowds of morning tai-chi'ers moving 
on the shores and agile exercisers 
playing badminton, using their feet 
instead of rackets. Teenage girls pose 
for pictures before a frescoed tiger at 
the entrance to Ngoc Son Temple. 
Worshippers burn joss sticks in the 
rocks above. 

Returning to my hotel, the Queen, I 

head along Hang Be Street, 
where I find a canvas-can- 
opied "wet market." Fasci- 
nated, I discover a dozen 
species of shrimp, squid, 
clams, and eel kept alive 
in tanks lining the block. 
A woman in high heels 
rides up on her scooter. 
She points to the eels, says 
a few words, and watches 
as the long fish are splayed 
out as fillets and wrapped 
in butcher paper. She takes 
the package and putt-putts 

"Buy it live! Cook it up!" 
yells the fishmonger in 

At a bakeshop I scoop 
up some rolls, then forti- 
fied, I jump on the back 
seat of a "moto-taxi," 


which is what they call an autorick- 
shaw. This is the way to experience 
Hanoi — buzzing about like a wasp on 
a jacked-up Vespa. My driver drops 
me off at the Temple of Literature, a 
centuries-old teaching university. Now 
a tourist attraction, the temple is a 
homage to Confucius, and the ancient 
culture of Hanoi. It is peaceful and 
otherworldly, arranged in a series of 
linked courtyards. I walk past stelae — 

what my graceful server describes as 
passion-fruit sauce. 

"Have you read The Quiet Ameri- 
can?" I ask the server, referring to the 
understated Graham Greene novel 
about the beginnings of the Vietnam 

"Not all of it," she says, smiling. "But 
I know it was written in the old wing 
of the hotel." 

I hold up the page I'm reading over 

Hoa Lo Prison — later dubbed the 
Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War 

was built in the late 1800s. 

carved, standing stones — shaped like 
turtles etched with the names of re- 
vered graduates dating to 1442. Then 
I pass by the Well of Heavenly Clarity, 
through the Gate of Great Success, 
around the Great House of Ceremo- 
nies, and into the higher education 
hall. Here students and visitors kneel, 
pray, and make small offerings to giant 
ironwood statues of three early kings 
and a bronze statue of a venerable 
rector. The temple, it seems, is a kind 
of church of learning. 

I decide to visit the classic French 
colonial Sofitel Legend Metropole 
Hotel next. The room rates are well 
beyond my "go cheap" budget, but the 
hotel's Hanoi Street Buffet lunch, all 
you can eat, is a bargain. I begin with 
the crab asparagus soup and braised 
squid, move on to steamed prawns in 
cress leaf, then fill my plate with sea 
bass and skate on lemongrass with 

a dessert of dragonfruit and man- 
gosteen. I'd forgotten to bring my own 
copy of the book, but no matter; each 
day an insistent student, working his 
way through tour-guide school, some- 
how finds me and proffers a basket 
of titles, including Greene's classic, 
bootlegged via photocopier. 

Next morning, I head to Hoa Lo 
Prison. Built in the late 1800s by the 
French colonial government to hold 
Vietnamese prisoners, Hoa Lo would 
later house American POWs during 
the Vietnam War, who referred to it as 
the Hanoi Hilton. What remains of the 
prison is now a museum. The empha- 
sis is on the French occupation — 
friezes of French jailers torturing 
patriots in barrels of water or with 

The square outside St Joseph's Cathe- 
dral in Hanoi's Old Quarter is a popular 
meeting place for young Vietnamese. 




READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i go St . c O . / n 




sticks and clubs, and mannequins 
depicting Vietnamese in shackles. 
Some exhibits cover the "American 
War," as the locals call it, and include 
a looping video of former US Secre- 
tary of Defence Robert McNamara 
apologizing for the conflict. 

At the Vietnam Military History 
Museum, my next stop, I watch young 
Vietnamese women posing for pic- 
tures on the landing skids of a war-era 
American Huey helicopter. When you 
consider that some three million Viet- 
namese died during the fighting, it 
seems remarkable that the locals have 
put the American War behind them. 
"Don't look back" is a phrase that hangs 
in the air over this contested city. 

Saving the most popular of these 
sombre attractions for last, the follow- 
ing day I take in the Ho Chi Minh 
Mausoleum. Uncle Ho, as he is known, 
was the Marxist leader who became 

An exhibit at the Vietnam Military 
History Museum includes wreckage of 
shot down and crashed aircraft. 

the President of North Vietnam in 
1945, and fought off the Japanese, 
French, and Americans. At 8am, the 
line at the gate is hundreds strong, 
with buses of schoolchildren in white 
shirts and red kerchiefs unloading all 
around Ba Dinh Square. 

Inside, Ho Chi Minh lies in repose 
within a glass chamber. We all file by 
silently, glancing at his bloated, waxen 
corpse. It's a little creepy, so I take my 
leave and repair to the Green Tangerine 
restaurant back in the Old Quarter. I'm 
pretty happy with my serendipitous 
approach to this charmingly contradic- 
tory city, where visitors can delve into 
both war and seafood, being careful to 
"don't look back" yet "don't forget." 

On my last full day in Hanoi, a city 
of small shops, I go on a buying spree. 
I buy half a dozen exquisite striped silk 
pyjama sets, $18 each. I buy lacquered 
art vases, buffalo horn jewellery, beau- 
tifully embroidered purses from the 
hill tribes — so much made-in-Vietnam 
loot that I ask my hotel manager where 
to get luggage to carry it all. 








Travel Ti 

•When to go The best 
months to visit are March 
and April when the weather 
is balmy and September 
through November when it 
is cooler but still dry and 

•Visas Indian nationals re- 
quire a visa to visit Vietnam. 
Contact the Vietnamese 
embassy for the visa or 
letter of approval for a visa 
on arrival. 
•Where to stay Tourists 

with a taste for luxury 
might consider the Sofitel 
Legend Metropole Hotel 
(solitel-legend. com/hanoi, 
en) or the Hotel de Opera 
(hoteldelopera.com) both 
in the Old Quarter. 
Less pricey but still very 
comfortable options are 
the Quoc Hoa Hotel 
(quochoahotel.com), the 
Church Boutique Hotels 
(churchhotel.com.vn) and, 
even less expensive, the 
Queen Hotel (azqueentra- 
vel.com) all in the Old 

•Where to eat Ask 100 

people where the best 
place to eat in Hanoi is and 
yo u get 1 00 d iff e re nt 
answers. Popular spots 
are: the Green Tangerine 
com), 48 Heng Be, north of 
Hoan Kiem Lake, featuring 
a French/Vietnamese 
fusion menu, and the Nha 
Hang Ngon Restaurant, 
26 Tran Hung Dao, in an 
old colonial style building 
in the Old Quarter and 
known locally for its excel- 
lent food. 

"I'll call my friend," he says. I arrive 
after hours at the friend's shop. He 
opens the door, rubbing his eyes 
sleepily, and leads me upstairs to his 
storeroom filled with racks of soft 
packs and hard-shell luggage. 

"I'd like several of these packs," I 

'Forty dollars each." 
Fifteen," I counter. 

The door opens. It's his wife in a 
dressing gown. 

"Thirty dollars," she says, taking 

"Twenty-five," I say. 



The man punches keys on his calcu- 
lator and shows his wife the total. Wife 
smiles. "Deal." 

Suddenly, a surprised scream. It's 
their embarrassed 13-year-old daugh- 
ter, her face plastered with thin slices 
of cucumber. We parents laugh. The 
girl retreats to the bathroom then 
pivots and flashes a twin Nixonian 

It's an innocent moment. "Inno- 
cence is a kind of insanity," Graham 
Greene chided. My six days in Hanoi 
have been a bit of both, in a most 
rewarding way. 

"Hair is the first thing. And teeth the second. Hair and teeth. A man got 

those two things he's got it all." James Brown 

"My husband said he wanted to have a relationship with a redhead, so 

I dyed my hair." Jane Fonda 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge s t . c o. i n 


Real-Life Drama 


from The Associated Press 

Right: a photograph 
of Saroo Brierley as 
a young boy, taken 
soon after he arrived 
in Australia. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 rea ders dige s t . c o . in 

Saroo was just six years old 
when he got hopelessly lost. 
Twenty-five years later, and 

from another side of the 
world, he started searching 

on Google Earth for clues 
that would lead him home 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r sd i g e st . c o . / n 


The six-year-old woke still curled on 
the hard wooden seat, where he'd 
drifted off to sleep. The rattle of the 
train was loud and steady, as it always 
was when he rode home with his big 
brother, Guddu. But Guddu was not 
there. And the landscape flashing past 
looked nothing like home. Saroo's 
heart began to pound. The entire coach 
was empty. His brother should have 
been there, sweeping under the seats 
for loose change. Where was he? 

This fateful train ride set into 
motion a chain of events that Saroo 
wouldn't understand for decades, 
events that would tear him from 
his family and his country. But right 
now, he only knew that nothing was 
as it should be. Wild with fear, he ran 
through the empty compartment, 
calling out for his brother and mother. 
Only the thunder of the train on its 
tracks answered his cries. 

Fatima Munshi was frantic. When she 
returned home after a hard day's 
work her two young sons still weren't 
there. They should have been back 
hours earlier. 

Fatima lived for her children. She 
had little else. Born to Hindu peasants 
and orphaned at age ten, she had no 
family to offer support or protection. 
But she had grit. As a teenager on 
a construction site, carrying cement in 
a broad bowl balanced on her head, she 
caught the eye of her supervisor. In a 
whirlwind romance, they got married. 

She converted to Islam, they moved 
to Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh and 

she bore three sons. When they grew 
up, she dreamed, they'd live in big 
homes nearby and each of them would 
give her ten rupees a day so she 
wouldn't have to work and could look 
after her grandchildren. 

Then her husband stopped coming 
home, first for a night, then longer. 
He stopped supplying money and 
food. Eventually, despite the fact that 
Fatima was pregnant again, he took 
a second wife. One day, desperate, 
Fatima confronted him. She beat 
him with a shoe; he beat her with a 
stick. In front of village elders, they 
divorced on the spot. 

Fatima was an abandoned woman 
with four young children. She went 
back to work. Guddu, about eight, 
and Saroo, two years younger, took 
to begging for food and change. Often 
she put them to bed with only water. 
"Amma, give us food," they would 
beg. "There is none," she'd answer in 
shame. I have nothing, she thought 
on those wretched nights, but at least 
I have my children. 

Saroo struggled to think. He 

remembered he and Guddu had taken 
the train from their local station to 
another to hunt for change. When 
they arrived, a weary Saroo collapsed 
onto a platform seat. Guddu promised 
to be back in a minute and walked off. 
When Saroo opened his eyes, a train 
was waiting. Guddu must be on board, 
he'd thought, in a sleepy fog. He 
boarded the train and drifted off again, 
thinking his brother would wake him 



READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 re a d e r S d i g e S t . c o . i n 

when they neared home. 

But now the train was coming to a 
halt. There was no Guddu, and this was 
not Khandwa. Saroo stepped out into 
chaos. Hordes of people, pushing, 
rushing. Speaking in an unfamiliar 
tongue. He was in Kolkata nearly 
1500km from home. It might as well 
have been Mars. 

He pleaded for help. But he spoke 
Hindi, and most others spoke Bengali. 
He didn't know his surname, or the city 
he came from — only his neighbour- 
hood. No one understood him. Frantic, 
he boarded another train, hoping it 
would take him home. It looped back 
to Kolkata. He hopped another train, 
and another. They all returned to this 
strange, frightening place. Saroo did 
this for days, begging other passengers 
for food. Eventually, he 
ventured into the streets. 

identifiable body by the tracks, then 
cremated him. Fatima fainted. 

Saroo ended up in a government 
centre for abandoned children. The 
bigger kids picked on him. No one 
spoke his language. He tried to explain 
who he was, but it was hopeless. 

Weeks later he was transported to 
the Indian Society for Sponsorship and 
Adoption. He had a comfortable bed, 
fresh clothes, plenty of food. The staff 
hunted for his family, using scraps of 
information that Saroo remembered. 
It wasn't enough. The government 
declared him a lost child. 

Months went by. Then one day, he 
was told a new family wanted him. 
They lived in a place far away, called 

His mother took to the 

When night fell, Fatima 
panicked. She and a neigh- 
bour went to the station to 
look for her boys. They 
searched the market where 
the boys would be. She went to the 
fountain where they liked to play. 
There was no sign of them. 

She had never been on a train 
before, but the next day she and her 
neighbour rode to other towns, asking 
police if they had seen her sons. She 
widened her search. She cried and 
prayed at a holy crypt. 

Then she saw a police officer she 
knew. Guddu was dead, he said, either 
fallen off the train or pushed. Police 
had photographed the mangled but 

rails again. She searched 
railv ly stations, police 

stations, jails. 

Meanwhile, Fatima wondered, where 
was her happy young son who would 
accompany her to work sites and build 
little roads out of rock? She'd nursed 
him for eight days after he was kicked 
in the face by a horse. She wouldn't 
give up now. 

She took to the rails again. She 
searched railway stations in Bhopal 
and Secunderabad, police stations in 
Hyderabad, jails in Mumbai. She didn't 
go to Kolkata. She couldn't imagine he 
had gone so far. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.in 


Saroo landed in Tasmania, Australia, 
with the photographs the adoption 
agency had given him of his new par- 
ents, his new house. He was nervous 
and shy; his new parents were patient 
and kind. His new home was a palace: 
four bedrooms and a big backyard. His 
new last name was Brierley. 

Saroo went to school, learnt English, 
made friends. But on restless nights, 
he thought about his mother and 
Guddu. Often, he prayed: if there is 
anything magical in the world, could 
you help me find my family? 

After three months of travelling on 
different trains, Fatima was exhausted. 
She abandoned her physical search 
but every Thursday she walked for an 
hour to a holy tomb to offer incense 

He scrolled further. 
The waterfall where 

His house... he'd recently used 
Google's satellite feature to get a 
bird's-eye view of his Australian 
house. Would it have similar images 
of his homeland? He called up a 
map of India, then randomly zoomed 
in on a train track and followed it, 
searching for something familiar. 
He zeroed in on Kolkata and worked 
backwards. He narrowed down the 
search area by multiplying the ap- 
proximate time he'd been on the train 
by an estimate of how fast an Indian 
train could have travelled. 

It was a needle in a haystack. 
His hunt dragged on for years. 
His girlfriend watched him searching 
night after night. She wondered if 
he would ever stop. 

he used to swim 


heart was pounding. 

and roses in prayer for Saroo's return. 
Her two remaining children, Kallu 
and Shakila, watched her cry. 

Saroo grew up. He was now a 

university student studying business 
and hospitality. Years had passed since 
that awful train ride, but he hadn't 
stopped searching for answers. All he 
had were vivid memories of his town — 
the waterfall he played in, the fountain 
near the cinema. The laneways sur- 
rounding his house. 

In Ganesh Talai, Madhya 
Pradesh, Fatima refused to 
give up. She had never heard 
of Google but for nearly 25 
years she'd been a regular 
visitor to fortune tellers seek- 
ing an answer. One of them 
was encouraging. 

Saroo's eyes drifted across an image 
of yet another railway station and 
froze. The walkover bridge, the water 
tank — exactly as he remembered. He 
scrolled further. The waterfall where 
he used to swim. The fountain. His 
heart was pounding. 

The map listed the town as 
"Khandwa." He plugged the name into 
Facebook. Bam — a group called 
"'Khandwa' My Home Town." On 
31 March 2011, he wrote: "can anyone 














READER'S DIGE5T FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r S d i g e s t . c o . / n 

How he did it 

Top: the dam and waterfall; 
middle: the fountain; bottom: 
Saroo's old tin-roofed house. 
Right: Saroo in Hobart, Australia, 

help me, i think im from Khandwa. i 
havent seen or been back to the place 
for 24 years. Just wandering if there is 
a big fountain near the Cinema?" 

The response was vague. On 3 April 
2011, Saroo tried again: "Can anyone 
tell me, the name of the town or 
suburb on the top right-hand side of 
Khandwa? I think it starts with G..." 
The administrator answered him the 
next day: "Ganesh Talai." Ganesh 
Talai. Home. 

He knew he had to go back. But 
what was he going back to? 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 re ad e r sd i ge s t . co . i n 


On 12 February 2012, Saroo Brierley 
stepped out of a train carriage into 
the chaotic landscape that had 
haunted his dreams. 

His loved ones in Australia had 
warned him not to expect too much. 
He remembered the poverty, the 
hunger. He'd spent years wondering 
about the fate of his family, and tried 
now to prepare himself for the worst. 

Everything seemed much smaller 
than in his memory. But the smells 
and sounds were the same, and the 
layout almost exactly as he had 
remembered. He began to walk, 
following pathways etched into his 
brain as a child. 

Saroo stared at the house in front 
of him in shock. It was the place 

he'd called home so long ago. It 
seemed impossibly tiny. A woman 
came out of the adjacent house. 
She asked, in hybrid Hindi-English, 
if he needed help or directions. 

Saroo pulled out a copy of a 
childhood photo his Australian 
parents had taken of him. He showed 
it and tried to explain. He said the 
names of his siblings and mother, 
waiting for a flicker of recognition. 
More neighbours were gathering. 
Did someone, anyone, know where 
his family was? 

A man plucked the photo 
from Saroo's hand. "Wait here," he 
said, and hurried off. A few minutes 
later, he returned. "Come with me," he 
said. "I am going to take you to your 







READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e s t . c o . / n 

mother." The man guided him around 
the corner, where three women stood 
waiting. Only the one in the middle 
seemed remotely familiar. "This is 
your mother," the man said, gesturing 
towards her. Behind the weathered 
face there was something unmistaka- 
ble. Unforgettable. Mother. His 

They grabbed each other 
and hugged tightly. He 
couldn't find words, so he 
just held her. The scar from 
the horse kick was still there 
on his forehead, and he had 
the chin dimple that marked 
all her children, but Fatima 
would have recognized him anyway. 
She led him by the hand to her new 
home and hugged him for what felt 
like an hour. 

"My Saroo is back," she said. "The 
almighty has finally answered my 
prayers." Saroo wept, overwhelmed. 
She told him about her search and 
how she had never given up hope. 
He was devastated to learn about his 
brother's grisly death. 

Fatima called Kallu and Shakila 
with the news. Kallu raced over. "You 
will be happy now," he told his mother. 
"Your son is back." 

But closure proved complicated. 
Saroo's questions about his family were 
answered, but new ones took their 
place. Can a mother and son separated 
by decades, thousands of kilometres 
and different cultures fit back together 
again? They couldn't communicate. 
Fatima knew no English. Saroo re- 
membered only a handful of Hindi 

words. He drank bottled water so he 
wouldn't get sick. Even his name was 
strange. They pronounced it "SHEH 
roo" in keeping with the local dialect; 
for him, over time, it had been angli- 
cized to "SAH roo." 

Their ten days together went by too 
fast. Local media kept trying to inter- 

They grabbed each 

other and hugged. He 

couldn't find v rds, so 

he just held her. 

view him. Neighbours stopped by to 
meet the boy who had miraculously 
returned. There was little time for the 
family to be alone. Suddenly, they 
were standing outside the airport 
terminal. He said goodbye, then 
walked inside. It wasn't long before 
he came back out, to see if she was 
still there. She was, and waited with 
him until he finally had to leave. He 
promised he would return. 

In Tasmania, the media frenzy 
intensified. He turned off his phone 
at night to silence the relentless 

Saroo began putting $100 a month 
into a bank account for Fatima, so 
that she could quit her job cleaning 
homes and washing dishes. The 
money covers Fatima's essentials — 
food, clothing and rent. She has kept 
her job, but has been able to reduce 
her work hours. Still, the gulf between 
mother and son remains vast. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge s t . c o . i n 


Fatima and Shakila beg a visitor to 
phone Saroo for them. Through a 
translator, Fatima asks if he is eating. 
Then she complains he doesn't call 
enough. They don't speak the same 
language, so communication is very 
difficult, Saroo says. Instead he sends 
text messages to his brother or 
Fatima's close neighbour, who both 
speak English, to have translated and 
passed on to her. 

She grows sarcastic: "Take care 
of the family you are staying with, 
don't bother with this family here." 
They need to understand the difficult 
position he is in, he says. Then he 
announces he intends to come back 
as much as possible. He would like 
to raise money to buy her a house. "Just 
stay calm and be happy that I'm alive 
and you know where I am," he says in 
exasperation. Fatima is in such a fury, 
the translator stops interpreting her 
words. "How could I have known that 
my son would not come back?" she 
hisses into the phone. 

But Saroo doesn't want to overthink 

their reunion. For him, it has been a 
miracle. "Instead of going to bed at 
night and thinking, How is my family? 
Are they still alive? I can let those ques- 
tions rest." He hopes to visit India once 
or twice a year, but he cannot move 
back. He has other responsibilities, 
other family and a whole other life in 
Tasmania. He is Australian now. 

Fatima is confused and frustrated. 
She doesn't want him to move back 
to India, where he won't be comfort- 
able. But she wants to be with him. 
Maybe she can move to Australia, she 
says. But a few minutes later she says 
she couldn't really move to an unfa- 
miliar place where no one can talk 
with her. 

She tries to understand that he has 
new parents, new expectations and 
a new life. She just wants him to see 
her once in a while, to call her occa- 
sionally, even if they can only speak a 
few sentences to each other. "For the 
moment," she says, "it's enough for me 
that I went to him. And he called me 
Amma" Mother. 


Google's self-driving cars have clocked more than 320,000 kilometres 
on busy highways and city streets using radar and computers to avoid 
obstacles. The Week [US] asked its readers to name the first mass- 
produced car that has no need for a human driver: 

The Ford Siesta 

Toyota Control la 
Bored Explorer 

The Audimatic 
Robo Coupe 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e st . c o . i n 



Eat Apples 
to Reduce 

There may be something 
to that adage after all: 
Middle-aged participants 
who started eating an 
apple a day saw a dramatic 
40% drop in their oxidized 
LDL, which is a particularly 
dangerous, artery- 
hardening form of "bad" 
cholesterol. In the small, 
month-long study, partici- 
pants who took pills 
containingthe same 
amount of polyphenol 
antioxidants contained 
in apples also saw a 
decrease, though signifi- 
cantly smaller. Further 
studies are needed to dis- 
cover why eating whole 
apples maximizes the 
heart-happy benefits. 

Source: Robert DiSilvestro, PhD, 
professor of human nutrition, 
Ohio State University 

Pain Relief 

Eating cherries has long 
been a home remedy for 
gout — a painful arthritic 
condition that attacks 
joints in the bigtoe and 
other areas — and now 
a new study supports its 
efficacy. Gout sufferers 
who ate about a cup and 
: a half of cherries over a 
: couple of days lowered 
their risk of a flare-up by 
35% compared with those 
who didn't eat the fruit. 
Eating cherries in addition 
to taking gout medication 
cut the risk by 75%. 
Researchers believe that 
antioxidants in the 
cherries might have 
anti-inflammatory effects 
and that the fruit also 
reduces blood-acid levels. 

Source: Yuqing Zhang, DSc, professor 
of medicine and public health, Boston 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge st . co. i n 

Clearer Labels, 
Safer Drugs 

New standards in the 
USA — something others 
should also adopt — 
finally require clear, 
easy-to-read labels 
on prescription medica- 
tions to help reduce 
emergency visits due to 
adverse drug effects. 
Critical information 
will appear in large, 
uncluttered print on a 
clean background, with 
less-important informa- 
tion tucked below. Instruc- 
tions for use will be in 
layman's terms ("for high 
blood pressure" instead 
of "for hypertension," 
for example). The new 
labels should start appear- 
ing in US pharmacies soon. 

Source: United States Pharmacopeial 
Convention, Rockville, Maryland, usp.org 

Regina Nuzzo 



"I told you — never put your phone on vibrate! 

y wife is a very adventurous 
and successful cook. "How 
does this sound?" she called out to 
me from the kitchen, "Bonito, surimi 
and anchovies in a decadent, silky 

"Sounds delicious," I said. "Is that 
what we're having tonight?" 

"No," she replied. "I'm just 
reading from this 
packet of cat food." 

David Wellings 

"Be a 
good citizen," said 

Back home 

after a vacation 
with my three 
children, I 
noticed bits of 

my 71 -year-old mother 
to my son while wishing 
him a happy Children's Day 
last November. 
"Thank you," replied my 13-year- 
old son. "You be a good senior 

citizen." Ratna Kusnur, Mumbai 

paper lying below my 
bookshelf. Guessing it 
would be the work of a 
rat, I hurriedly opened 
the shelf to see which of 
my precious books had 
been damaged. I found 
a bunch of pink, just- 
delivered baby rats, all 
lying on one fat book: 
Dr Benjamin Spock's 
Baby and Child Care. 

Seetha Kannan, Chennai 

I was bumping away on 
my seat on one of our 
local public buses 

recently when my eye 
was drawn to a notice in the win- 
dow: "Free fare for WWI veterans." 
I did my maths, counting all ten 
fingers over and over, and figured 
that such a person would have to be 
over a hundred years old. After I 
pointed this out to the friendly 
driver, he said, "Well then, if some 
joker comes onboard and tries that 
on, I'm going to ask for ID." 
"ID?" I replied. "I'd 
be asking, 'What's 
your secret?' " 

Annette Ciesla 


An hour after I'd 

put my seven- 
year-old son to 
bed, I heard him 


reader's digest February 2013 reade rsdigest.co.in 









cry out. I ran to his room, where I 
found him sobbing. 

"Mummy, I had a bad nightmare 
about a big monster," he said. "And 
he had a face just like yours." 

Dorothy Amaral 

When I took my ten-year-old 
grandson on his first flea market 
visit, I taught him the fine art of 

"Say someone's selling a hunting 
knife for ^200. Offer him ?150," I 
instructed. He got the concept, and 
when he spotted a ring he wanted 
that was selling for ^50, he went 
into action. 

"I only have ?30," he 
told the woman at the 

She smiled. "Then ^30 
it is." 

With that, he pulled out 
a ^50 note and waited for 
change. c.c. 

me for a story about when she 
was born. 

"Daddy brought Mummy to the 
hospital, and the doctor helped you 
to be born," I began. "When you 
came out, we both said, 'What is it?' 
And the doctor said, 'It's a girl!' " 

"How did the doctor know I was 
a girl?" asked Chantelle. 

"Well, when you were born, you 
came with no clothes on." 

"Ahh," said Chantelle. "And 
boys have clothes on." 

Annette Campbell 


Your anecdote in "Life!" could be worth 
?iooo. Post it to the Editorial address or 

e-mail: editor.india@rd.com 


Siri is the personal assistant heard on iPhones. 
Ask her a question, and she's sure to find an answer 
even if she has to make it up, like these clever 
(and real) responses: 

«uVwtzon • 


« What's the meaning of 

Scene: My recent eluci- 
dating phone conversa- 
tion with a car-rental 

Me: "Hello. I'm calling to 
see if I can rent a four- 
wheel-drive vehicle at the 

Customer-service rep: 
"Yes, ma'am, all our vehi- 
cles have four wheels." 

Beth Vachon 

My three-year-old daugh- 
ter, Chantelle, begged 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e ad c rsd igest. CO. i n 


Bonus Read 


41* 1 









READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 re ad e rs d i ge St . c O . i n 










Bin Laden's daughter Miriam, age 
20, rushed upstairs to the al-Qaeda 
leader's top-floor bedroom. She asked 
him what was going on. "Go down- 
stairs and go back to bed," bin Laden 
told her. 

Bin Laden had been hiding out in 
his sprawling one-acre compound for 
more than five years. He slept on the 
third floor with his newest and young- 
est wife, a spirited 28-year-old Yemeni 
named Amal. Two older wives, Khay- 
riya and Siham, resided in their own 
quarters on the floors below, along 
with a number of bin Laden's children. 
In the outbuildings of the compound 
lived two of bin Laden's oldest and 
closest advisers. 

On a shelf in bin Laden's bedroom 
were the AK-47 and a Makarov semi- 
automatic pistol that were his constant 
companions. But he didn't reach for 
them. Instead, he turned to Amal and 
told her, "Don't turn on the light." 

It was a pointless admonition. Some- 
one — it is still not clear who — had 
turned off the electricity feeding the 
neighbourhood. This silent precaution 
gave the approaching US Navy's Sea, 

Air, Land Teams (SEALs) a large advan- 
tage on that moonless night. Indeed, 
those would be the last words Osama 
bin Laden would ever utter. 


The United States had been hunting 
bin Laden for ten years. In early 2011 
military intelligence sources reported 
that the al-Qaeda leader had been 
living in Abbottabad for several years. 
They were between 60 and 80 percent 
certain that Osama bin Laden was in 
the compound. 

At a White House meeting on 28 
April 2011, Barack Obama's top mili- 
tary adviser, Admiral Mike Mullen, 
walked the president through a plan 
to raid the compound. Mullen said he 
had attended a full-scale rehearsal, 
and he knew his team could do it. But 
Vice President Joseph Biden argued 
against a raid. "We need greater 
certainty that bin Laden is there," he 
told his boss. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 
gave a long, lawyerly presentation 
examining both the upsides and 
downsides of a raid. Finally, she 










7?. i/> 


LlI Q» 







READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 rei.idersdigcst.co.in 

5 » 

summarized: "It's a very close call, but 
I would say: Do the raid." 

CIA Director Leon Panetta argued 
in favour. "I've always used the test," 
he concluded, "what would the aver- 
age American say? If you told the av- 
erage American — we have the chance 
to get the terrorist who attacked us on 
9/11 — I think they would say, 'We 
gotta goV 

President Obama listened to his se- 
nior advisers, but kept his own views 
to himself. "Obviously," he said later, 
"I knew that if we were unsuccessful, 
there was the potential not only for 
loss of life — [among] the incredibly 
brave SEALs who were going in — but 
also there would be huge geopolitical 

Next morning, Friday, April 29, he 
gathered his military advisers at the 
White House. "Is there anything 
new?" he asked. 

There wasn't. 

Obama said simply, "I've considered 
the decision: It's a go." 


Around 8am on Sunday, May 1, in 
Washington, top American security 
advisers began arriving at the White 
House. They were careful to project 
a show of business as usual. President 
Obama even left for his usual Sunday 
round of golf. 

The biggest concern of the Ameri- 
cans was the sensitive location of the 
bin Laden compound. Abbottabad is 
a city of some 500,000 souls, sitting 
just west of Kashmir in the foothills 
of the Himalayas, and home to a num- 
ber of excellent schools, including 
Pakistan's leading military academy. 
The Americans were carrying out a 
secret military operation in Pakistan, 
a nominal ally. The Pakistanis might 
react. What if Pakistani soldiers 
stumbled on the operation? It could 
lead to a shootout. Not good. 

At 1pm in Washington, as night fell 
11,200km away in Pakistan, President 
Obama's advisers convened in the 
White House Situation Room. At 

1:22pm CIA Director Panetta told 
Admiral William McRaven, who 
would lead the charge on bin Laden 
from Jalalabad, in eastern Afghani- 
stan, to begin the raid. "Go in there 
and get bin Laden," he ordered. "And 
if bin Laden isn't in there, get the 
hell out!" 

At 2pm Obama himself returned 
from his golf game. He went straight 
to the Situation Room. 

It was now just past 11pm in Abbot- 
tabad, and the bin Laden household 
was in bed. Bin Laden was the abso- 
lute monarch of his family, and he 
insisted they all live an austere life. 

They slaughtered their own goats for 
meat. Milk came from their own cows, 
eggs from their own chickens, and 
vegetables from their own kitchen 
garden. The compound was approach- 
able by a single mud road. The 12-foot 
walls, barbed wire and security cam- 
eras gave it the look of a minimum- 
security prison. 

Bin Laden's top-floor sanctuary had 
windows on only one side, just small 
slits above eye level, with one larger 
window looking out over a small, 
high-walled terrace. The bedroom 

ceiling was low, no more than seven 
feet high, which was cramped for a 
man as tall as bin Laden. The tiny 
bathroom off to the side had only a 
rudimentary toilet and a cheap plastic 
shower. In this bathroom bin Laden 
regularly applied dye to his hair and 
beard to try to maintain a youthful 
appearance now that he was in his 

Bin Laden almost certainly kept up 
the religious practices of his youth, ris- 
ing before dawn and praying seven 
times a day, twice more than is re- 
quired in traditional Islam. He spent 
his days wrapped in a blanket against 

the mountain cold, review- 
ing old videos of himself, 
monitoring Al Jazeera tele- 
vison and BBC radio, and 
reading anti-American 
books. He was attended by 
three of his four wives — his 
first wife, Najwa, had re- 
turned to her native Syria 
in the summer of 2001. 
By virtue of her age and 
stern temperament, 62 -year-old Khay- 
riya, a teacher of deaf-mute children 
before she married bin Laden in 1985, 
was highest in the wifely pecking or- 
der. Next came 54-year-old Siham, 
who had obtained a PhD in Koranic 
grammar while she was living with 
the al-Qaeda leader in Sudan in the 
mid-1990s, and who often edited her 
husband's writings. There was little 
fighting among bin Laden's spouses. 
All of them had gone into marriage 
knowing it would be a polygamous 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 rea de rs digc s t . CO . in 













In Jalalabad, Afghanistan, 240km to 
the west of Abbottabad, a SEAL team 
got ready to board two Black Hawk 
helicopters. The team consisted of 23 
operators and an interpreter, as well 
as a combat dog named Cairo wearing 
body armour just like his SEAL com- 
rades. The operators carried small 
cards filled with photos and descrip- 
tions of bin Laden's family. 

The two Black Hawks took off and 
crossed the Pakistani border in about 
15 minutes. The choppers were painted 
with exotic emulsions designed to 
evade radar, and their tail rotors had 
been designed to make them less 
noisy. They flew "nap-of-the-earth," 
which means perilously low and very 
fast — only a few feet above the ground, 
hugging the valleys that penetrate the 
foothills of the Hindu Kush mountain 
range. After crossing the border, the 
choppers swung north of Peshawar 
and its millions of residents and eye- 
balls. Total flight time to the target 

was about an hour and a half. 

Once the Black Hawks were in Pak- 
istan, three bus-size Chinook helicop- 
ters took off from Jalalabad. One 
landed just inside the Afghan border 
with Pakistan, and two flew on to Kala 
Dhaka in the remote mountainous re- 
gion of Swat, about 80km northwest 
of Abbottabad, landing on the banks 
of the Indus River. On board were two 
dozen SEALs who would go forward 
if the SEALs on the Black Hawks en- 
countered serious opposition. 


When the two Black Hawks reached 
their destination, the carefully planned 
operation began to unravel. As the 
first chopper tried to land in the court- 
yard, it suddenly lost altitude. The 
tail of the craft clipped one of the 
compound walls. The pilot could no 
longer control the chopper, and so to 
avoid a potentially catastrophic crash 
he buried the nose in the mud. Be- 
cause of his quick thinking, the SEALs 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r c a d c r scl i gc St . c o . i n 


on board did not sustain serious 
injuries. They clambered out of the 
downed chopper. 

The plan had been for the two Black 
Hawks to drop off the two dozen men 
before flying out to a distant rendez- 
vous point, where they would wait for 
the signal to return. The hope was that 
locals would assume the choppers 
were visiting the nearby military acad- 
emy. Now one Black Hawk was down, 
and any chance that the mission might 
remain "deniable" was gone. So was 
the element of surprise. 

President Obama watched this all 
unfold on the grainy video feed 
beamed from a drone — an unmanned 
aircraft — flying high above the com- 
pound. Everyone was holding their 
breath. In Panetta's conference room 
at the CIA, there was silence as the 
footage of the downed helicopter 
flickered on the screen. Admiral 
McRaven, from Jalalabad, said with- 
out any shift in tone, "We will now be 
amending the mission. We have a 
helicopter down. My men are pre- 
pared for the contingency." A minute 
later he ordered the SEALS waiting in 
the Chinook helicopter north of the 
compound to get to Abbottabad. 

At the compound, three SEALs from 
the downed chopper ran across a small 
field and opened a door on one of the 
inside walls, leading to a self-contained 
annex area. They found a one-storey 
building where bin Laden's courier, a 
man called "the Kuwaiti," lived with 
his family. The Kuwaiti poked his head 
out from behind a metal gate, and the 
SEALs shot him twice, killing him. 

They also wounded the Kuwaiti's wife 
with a shot to her right shoulder. Their 
silenced weapons made little noise. 
The courier's AK-47 was later found 
by his bedside. 


Meanwhile, the second Black Hawk 
pilot had seen what happened to the 
first chopper, and he settled his craft 
down just outside the compound 
walls. The SEALs jumped out, four of 
them to secure the outside perimeter 
of the compound, together with the 
interpreter and Cairo. The dog would 
track anyone trying to escape, while 
discouraging any inquisitive neigh- 
bours from getting too close. 

The other eight SEALs from the sec- 
ond chopper set an explosive charge 
on a solid metal door on one of the 
compound's exterior doors, only to be 
greeted by a solid brick wall. Dead 
end. Soon after that, their colleagues 
from the downed chopper let them in 
through the main gate. 

Up in his top-floor bedroom, bin 
Laden was a victim of his own secu- 
rity arrangements. The few windows 
ensured that no one could look in to 
see him, but now it was impossible for 
him to see what was going on outside 
the small room he shared with Amal. 
Dressed in tan salwar-kameez robes, 
the leader of al-Qaeda just waited in 
the dark, paralyzed as the Americans 
stormed his last refuge. 

Three SEALs went from the Ku- 
waiti's one-story building through a 
metal gate into a grassy courtyard in 
front of the main house. The SEALs 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigcst.co.in 



















Obama and his advisers, including 
Biden (far left) and Hillary Clinton 
(2nd from right), watch events 
unfold on a video feed. 

entered the first floor. On their left 
was a bedroom where they shot Abrar, 
the Kuwaiti's brother, and his wife, 
killing them both. 

The SEALs passed a kitchen and two 
large storage rooms to a stairwell at 
the back of the house. Blocking their 
way to the upper two floors was a 
massive, locked metal gate. The SEALs 
blasted their way through this gate. 

As they ran up to the second floor, 
they encountered bin Laden's 23-year- 
old son Khalid, whom they shot on the 
staircase. Knots of children were now 
gathering on the stairs and landings. 

Bin Laden opened a metal gate out- 
side his bedroom and poked his head 
out to see what the commotion was. 
He was immediately spotted by the 
SEALs, who bounded up the next flight 
of stairs. Retreating inside, bin Laden 
did not lock the gate behind him, 
allowing the SEALs to run past it into 
a short corridor and then into his 

Amal screamed something in 
Arabic and then threw herself in front 
of her husband. The first SEAL who 
charged into the room shoved her 
aside, concerned she might be wear- 
ing a suicide bomb vest. Amal was 
shot in the calf by another SEAL, and 
collapsed unconscious onto the mat- 
tress she shared with bin Laden. 

Bin Laden offered no resistance as 
he was dispatched with a double tap 
of shots to the chest and his left 
eye. It was a grisly scene. The floor 
near the bed was smeared with bin 
Laden's blood. 


On the audio feed, McRaven heard the 
SEAL team give the code word Geron- 
imo. Each step of the operation had 
been labelled with a letter, and G 
meant that bin Laden had been "se- 
cured." McRaven relayed word to the 
White House, then asked the SEALs, "Is 
he EKIA [Enemy Killed in Action]?" 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r C a (1 C r s d i gc St . C O . i n 


A few seconds later the answer 
came back, "Roger, Geronimo, EKIA." 
Then McRaven announced to the 
White House, "Geronimo, EKIA." 

There were gasps in the Situation 
Room, but no whoops or high fives. 
The president quietly said, "We got 
him, we got him." 

The SEALs grabbed bin Laden's 
body and dragged it down the stairs 
of the residence. Outside the com- 
pound, the interpreter waved off curi- 
ous neighbours, telling them in the 
local language that a security opera- 
tion was going on and they should go 
home. In the 23 minutes after they 
killed bin Laden, some SEALs wired 
the disabled chopper with explosives 



while others gathered up computers, 
cellphones and pen drives that littered 
bin Laden's residence. The SEALs also 
rounded up the more than a dozen 
women and children and moved them 
out of the way so they could blow up 
the downed helicopter. 

One SEAL operator took a photo of 
bin Laden's face and uploaded the pic- 
ture to a server. It was sent to Wash- 
ington, where two separate teams of 
facial recognition experts compared 

the picture to existing photographs, 
to provide quick confirmation that it 
was the al-Qaeda leader. SEALs also 
extracted samples of tissue for DNA 

In Washington, officials watching 
the video feed from the stealth drone 
saw the two distinctive large rotors of 
a Chinook helicopter arriving at the 
compound. The officials also saw the 
SEAL teams on the ground gathering 
outside the compound wall waiting to 
board the chopper for the flight back 
to base. The video feed then showed 
a massive fireball as the downed heli- 
copter was blown up. The backup 
Chinook took off from Abbottabad 
with the SEALs from the disabled bird 

and all the material seized 
from the compound, as 
well as bin Laden's body. 
The wives and children 
were left behind. 

On the way out of Ab- 
bottabad, the Chinook and 
the Black Hawk separated, 
making them harder to 
detect as they headed to- 
wards Afghanistan. Both 
flew more direct routes than they had 
on the way in, since speed rather than 
stealth was now the essence. 

At about 2am local time, 6:30pm 
back in Washington, the Chinook 
landed safely in Jalalabad; the entire 
operation had taken a little over three 
hours. Admiral McRaven inspected 
bin Laden's corpse. They stretched 
the body out to its full length but 
didn't have a tape measure to confirm 
that the corpse measured six feet four, 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigcst.co.in 







the height of the al-Qaeda 
leader, so a SEAL of roughly 
the same height lay down 
next to the body. The height 
was a match. 

Shortly after this confirma- 
tion, the CIA's director for 
science and technology called 
in to Leon Panetta. "We've 
gotten the facial analysis," Pa- 
netta relayed to the president, 
"We believe it's bin Laden 
with 95 percent confidence." 


Pakistani security officials began ar- 
riving at the Abbottabad compound 
within a few minutes after the SEALs 
had left. They could hear the sound of 
the helicopters fading into the dis- 
tance. They saw the burning helicop- 
ter, and inside the main residence they 
found several women screaming and 
shouting, and 14 children, all hand- 
cuffed. They also found four dead bod- 
ies, two in the annex building and two 
on the ground floor of the main build- 
ing. On the top floor, bin Laden's 
youngest wife, Amal, lay unconscious 
on the bed, wearing a black burkha, as 
if she had been planning to go out. 

An older woman told the officials 
in English. "They have killed and 
taken away Abu Hamza." 

One of the officials asked, "Well, 
who is Abu Hamza?" 

She replied, "Osama bin Laden. 
They've killed the father of my son." 

The Pakistanis took bin Laden's 
three wives and his children into 
custody and placed them under house 

arrest while they were debriefed by 
Pakistani miltary intelligence investi- 

Back at the White House, Obama's 
team realized that the bin Laden 
operation would not remain secret for 
long. Officials monitoring the feed 
from the drone could already see 
people on the rooftops of buildings in 
Abbottabad talking on cellphones. 

Once the two helicopters carrying 
the SEALs and bin Laden's body had 
safely exited Pakistani airspace, the 
first person Obama called was George 
W Bush. His predecessor congratu- 
lated him and the SEALs. 

Obama also called Bill Clinton, the 
first American president to have tried 
to kill bin Laden, as well as David 
Cameron, the British Prime Minister, 
whose country had also suffered at the 
hands of al-Qaeda. Then Obama called 
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari 
and told him the news. Zardari became 
emotional. His wife, Benazir Bhutto, 
the former Pakistani Prime Minister, 
had been assassinated by al-Qaeda's 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d c r sd i g c St . c o . i n 


Taliban allies four years earlier. 

Obama's top military adviser, Ad- 
miral Mike Mullen, got through to 
Pakistani chief of army staff, General 
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. "Congratula- 
tions," Kayani immediately said. But 
he was concerned about the violation 
of Pakistani sovereignty and, in effect, 
demanded that Obama go out as soon 
as possible and explain what had hap- 
pened. "Our people need to under- 
stand that this was bin Laden and not 
just some ordinary US operation." 

At 11:35 that same evening, while 
cheering crowds gathered in Lafayette 
Park near the White House, brought 
there by the news that bin Laden 
might have been killed, President 
Obama walked up to a lectern in front 
of the TV cameras. "Good evening," 
he said. "Tonight, I can report to the 
American people and to the world 
that the United States has conducted 
an operation that killed Osama bin 
Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, and a 
terrorist who's responsible for the 
murder of thousands of innocent men, 
women and children." 

Despite the late hour on a Sunday 
night, the speech drew more viewers 
than any other in Obama's presidency; 
some 55 million Americans tuned 
in to hear that bin Laden had been 

Half a world away, bin Laden's 
corpse was being prepared for burial. 
Obama officials wanted to ensure that 
there would be no grave that could 
become a shrine. They consulted 
Islamic experts and found that a sea 
burial might be permissible when 
there was no land alternative. They 
then called Saudi officials and asked 
whether the Saudis wanted bin 
Laden's body returned to his home- 
land. If not, the plan was to bury him 
at sea. The US was told to go ahead 
with the plan. 

The corpse was transported from 
eastern Afghanistan to a US aircraft 
carrier cruising off the coast of Paki- 
stan. Procedures for a Muslim burial 
were followed, and then on May 2, at 
11:30am 1ST, the 54-year-old Osama bin 
Laden was consigned to a watery grave 
in the vast Arabian Sea. 







READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 read e rsd i ge s t. CO . i n 


The Secret 
Life of Your 

Taste Buds 

Does chilli sauce make you sweat? 
Barb Stuckey, author of Taste: 
Surprising Stories and Science 
About Why Food Tastes Good, 
shares what our preferences 
really mean 

Would your dream meal be 
French fries and ice-cream? 

You might be a survivor of multiple 
ear infections, which can damage the 
"taste nerves." Instead of experiencing 
sensations like bitterness and fattiness 
in balance, you may perceive a more 
pronounced fatty sensation, making 
rich foods extra tempting. 

Does dark chocolate 
remind you of coal? 

You could have damaged your 
trigeminal "touch nerve," which 
often happens during mouth surgery. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.co.i 

page 158 




.ove 'em 
r hate 'em, 
it's not all 

in your 


In this case, foods that are both fatty 
and bitter — like chocolate — can 
come across as simply very bitter. 

Would you rather eat soap 
than coriander? 

Just like colour blindness, you can 
also be "smell blind" to various 
scents, which drastically affects 
taste. Coriander has a very complex 
aroma, but coriander haters are 
smell blind and just perceive soap. 
No wonder it tastes disgusting! 

Are you a saltaholic? 

There's a chance your mother experi- 
enced severe morning sickness while 
you were in utero. Because those ba- 
bies were dehydrated in the womb, 
they seem to enjoy salt more than 
other newborns — and the preference 
can stick with them for life. 

Do you gladly eat 
your carrots? 

Your mom probably did too. In a 
study, toddlers whose mothers had 

abstained from all forms of carrots 
during pregnancy were ambivalent 
about carrot-flavoured cereal. But 
toddlers whose mothers had con- 
sumed lots of carrot juice immedi- 
ately accepted the carrot cereal. 
It's assumed that the principles hold 
for some other foods too. 

Do you recoil from 
black coffee or broccoli? 

Hello, supertaster! You could be part 
of the 25% or so of the population 
who perceive the basic taste sensa- 
tions of bitter, salt, sweet, and sour 
more powerfully than other people. 
For supertasters, bitter foods like 
black coffee and some vegetables 
come across as especially pungent 
and unsavoury. 

Does spicy sauce set off fire 
alarms in your mouth? 

If you have more taste buds, as 
supertasters do, you also have more 
sensitive fibres, which relay the 
sensation of spiciness (that is, pain!). 

Does Alcohol Burn off in Cooking? 

Whether it's adding a 
glass or two of wine to a 
pasta sauce or pouring 
brandy over pancakes 
before flamingthem, the 
conventional belief is that 
all the alcohol in these 
drinks burns off in the 
cooking process. 

However, research by 
the US Department of 

Agriculture has found this 
is not actual ly true. When 
they tested the alcohol 
content of meals pre- 
pared in different ways, 
they found it took about 
2.5 hours of simmeringto 
remove all but 5% of the 
alcohol. Even if you light 
the alcohol, as in f lambe 
dishes, 75% will remain. 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i ge s t . c o . i n 
















Secret Weapon 

There's just one beauty essen- 
tial you must use every day... 


In years of writing about beauty, 
I've seen a lot of "miracle 
products" that claim to reduce 
wrinkles, and turn back the clock. 
But there's only one product that 
should be by everyone's bathroom 
sink — and it's as vital to skin as 
toothpaste is to teeth. I bet you're 
interested...until I say that it's 
sunscreen. But please don't just turn 
the page now. And here's why. 

We're all familiar with what aging 
does to our skin. What we're less 
familiar with is the fact that almost 
all of those lines and age spots are 
there simply because our face has 
been exposed to daylight every day. 
(You don't get those signs of aging 
on your backside!) 

I say "daylight" rather than "sun- 
light" for a reason. There are two 
types of ultraviolet rays that affect 
the skin: UVB, the "burning" rays 
that give us a tan and UVA, the 
damaging "aging" rays present in 
daylight all year round, and can 
travel through glass. Yes, their 
effects stack up slowly, but by late 
middle age, they're starting to show. 

What sunscreen does for skin is 
one of the few issues in the beauty 

world that is a matter of fact rather 
than opinion. 

Mark Birch-Machin, professor of 
molecular dermatology at Newcastle 
University, UK, has shown that sun 
exposure leaves its mark on the DNA 
of our skin cells. The DNA remem- 
bers the "insults" it gets from UV 
light, which, even if tiny, add up to a 
"tower of damage" that he likens to a 
pile of toy building blocks. 

Too late — the damage is done? 
Well, yes, but as I hope you're going 
to live a good few years more, you 
may prefer to keep any future 
wrinkles at bay — which is what the 
consistent wearing of sunscreen can 
do for you. So find a moisturizer that 
protects from UVB (the SPF) and UVA 
rays (the symbol saying UVA in a 
circle, or the label saying the prod- 
uct offers "broad spectrum" cover). 
And put it on every morning before 
you step out. Then forget about it 
and get on with the more important 
things in life. 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e i s d i g e s t . c o . i n 




The Ten 

of Breast Cancer 

A survivor's tips to avoid judg- 
mental people, deal with a crazy 
swirl of emotions, and more 


from secondbasedispatch.com 

IThou shalt give thyself time to 
think When you're diagnosed, 
you may feel like you have to do 
something right now. You don't. 
Take a deep breath. Slow the spin- 
ning in your head before you make 
any decisions. 

2 Thou shalt honour thy own 
feelings, whether shiny and 
happy or tired or angry or scared 

And don't be surprised to feel all 
these things within the space of 
15 minutes, several times a day. 

3 Thou shalt not judge thy 
neighbour's treatment or 
reconstruction choices or attitude 

I have not seen people in the breast 
cancer community judge each other. 
The real armchair critics are those 
who have never been through it. 
Some think you should overcome 
your fluffy pink cancer by being all 


Number of India 

women who will be 

diagnosed with 

breast cancer 
in 2015. 

upbeat or that you should feel grate- 
ful for some life lesson. That's a big 
fail. But you may be the naturally 
optimistic type. You may actually be 
grateful. That's OK too. Telling you 
how you should feel about your 
diagnosis is like saying you should 
be six feet tall or have brown eyes. 

4 Thou shalt love thyself as thy 
neighbour We women are so 
darn hard on ourselves. Give yourself 
the same break you would a loved 
one going through a big diagnosis. 

5 Thou shalt not beat thyself up 
You don't have breast cancer 
because you ate the wrong things 
or didn't breast-feed or exercise 










READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r ead e rs d ige St . CO. i n 

6 Thou shalt allow others to help 
thee Your family and friends 
want to be able to do something for 
you; let them. 

7 Thou shalt not bear false witness 
against science You may or 

may not decide on a certain course 
of treatment. (See Commandment 
3.) You may or may not have a good 
experience. Others can learn from 
an honest recounting of your experi- 
ences, but that doesn't make you 
a medical expert. Celebrities have 
a special responsibility here. 

8 Thou shalt ask thy doctors 
questions "What is the risk if I 
do A or B?" or "What does that word 
mean?" or "Could you repeat that?" I 
Good doctors welcome your ques- 
tions and concerns. Not-so-good ones 
need to be reminded that there's a I 

person attached to the breast. 

9 Thou shalt seize the day Cancer 
is the elephant in the room. But 
sometimes you just have to pat its 
big ugly flank and say, "Excuse me, 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readersdigest.CO.in 

elephant, but I'm going to the beach, 
or the movies, or the backyard with 
my kids. I'll catch you when I get 
back. Right now, I'm off to have 
some fun." 

WThou shalt remember thou 
art more than thy cancer 

You may be a woman with cancer, 
but you may also be a wife, mom, 
sister, daughter, employed person, 
and friend. Let the extent to which 
cancer becomes part of your 
identity be your choice. 





The habit of eating the same food 
most days of the week (for example, 
a bowl of corn flakes for breakfast 
or noodles for lunch seven days a 
week). Having variety in your diet not 
only ensures a mix of healthy nutri- 
ents but also minimizes exposure to 
any toxins in foods that might be safe 
in small doses but risky in large quanti- 
ties, according to Red book. 





Sleeping Pill Linked 
to Dementia 

enzodiazepines, a widely pre- 
scribed class of drug for insomnia 
and anxiety, have been linked with 
an increased risk of dementia in the 

Researchers from the University of 
Bordeaux in France found that adults 
aged 65 and over who start taking this 
type of drug are 50% more likely to 
develop dementia within 15 years. 

They are not the first concerns about 
the safety of these drugs. Previous 
studies have linked them to falls and 
fall-related fractures. 

Many patients take these drugs for 
years despite guidelines suggesting short- 
term use. The study's authors recom- 
mend a more circumspect approach — 
doctors should weigh up the benefits of 
benzodiazepines and, where possible, 
limit prescriptions to a few weeks. 

Sniff Away the 
3pm Slump 

Could rosemary oil be the anti- 
dote to afternoon sleepiness? 
UK researchers from the Brain, 
Performance and Nutrition 
Research Centre at Northumbria 
University exposed subjects to 
rosemary oil aroma for different 
lengths of time (between four 
and ten minutes). They found 
that people with the longest 
exposure and the highest blood 
levels of i,8-cineole (a possible 
brain-boosting compound in the 
oil) performed better in mental 
tests of speed and accuracy than 
those with lower levels. 













READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e S t . c o . / n 



\ V 



New Pepsodent Expert Protection Pro Sensitive 

not only gives Rapid Relief but also repairs your teeth. Go beyond Instant relief. 

Use regularly to get the power of repair for long lasting protection . 




Five Indulgences 
That B 

• it 


from Psychology Today 

cientists have discovered that 
willpower is like a muscle that 
gets tired from exercise: Our 
self-control gets sapped by decisions, 
distractions, and stress. But anything 
that reduces stress, boosts mood, or 
recharges energy can help restore 
spent willpower. Treat these "temp- 
tations" as strategic indulgences: 

Reality Television 

Willpower is contagious, research 
suggests. Since many reality shows 
feature people overcoming obsta- 
cles as they lose weight, face their 
fears, or organize their clutter, 
you can "catch" extra self-control 
just by watching someone else 
pursue a goal. 


The brain uses energy for will- 
power. When blood sugar drops, 
your brain is less able to concen- 
trate, so a small nibble can nudge 
the brain back into self-control 
mode. Eat protein or fibre for 
sustained willpower without 
post-snack regret. 

Afternoon Nap 

Willpower is often highest in the 
morning, when the brain is re- 
freshed by sleep. When you're tired, 
it's harder to control impulses. A 
short power nap — which reduces 
stress and improves mood — can dial 
back the usual willpower drain. 


It's OK to get sucked into a few 
minutes of piano-playing kittens. 
Research shows that watching a 
funny video restores depleted 
willpower and can help you get 
back on track with difficult tasks. 


Caffeine gets a bad rap for causing 
energy crashes, but in reasonable 
doses, it can reduce stress. Studies 
show that small amounts of caffeine 
can balance the autonomic nervous 
system, making you calmer and 
more alert at the same time — 
perfect for resisting temptation. 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 rendcrsdigest.CQ.in 



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Floral Sleep Fixes 

Blackout curtains still not doing the trick? We uncovered 
studies that show how certain plants can deepen sleep and 
stop tossing and turning 

For Light Sleepers: JASMINE 

Place one of these varieties on your 
nightstand and experience a deeper 
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep 
cycle: Jasminum polyanthum (a vine- 
like plant with tiny flowers; see 
right) or Grand Duke of Tuscany, a 
variety of Jasminum sambac (a more 
shrublike strain) that grows fragrant, 
roselike blossoms. 


Do you 

lack a green 

thumb? Potent 


oils work 

as well. 

For Stressed Sleepers: LAVENDER 

This plant's flowery aroma slows 
heart rate and lowers blood 
pressure. In one study, scientists 
sprinkled lavender oil or an 
unscented placebo on the bedsheets 
of 12 female insomniacs and found 
that the women with lavender- 
scented sheets slept better and 
woke up feeling refreshed. 

For Fitful Sleepers: GARDENIA 

This sweet-scented 

bud soothes 

uneasy sleepers. 


physicians even 

prescribe it to ^^^^ ^ ^ 

manage anger and i 


Sources: apartmenttherapy.com, freewebs.com 

READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 readcrsdigest.co.in 

l/l < 


— K 

>- LU 

I- ... 

LU l/l 

U w 




^ z 






s i> 



Speed Up 


to tech 

experts, Firef 

is the fastest 



Clear your browsing 

history Internet browsers 
store information about each 
website you visit. After a few 
days, that data can begin 
to slow down how fast 
pages load. To delete 
your history in Internet 
Explorer, hit Tools, Inter- 
net Options, and the General 
tab. Then, under Browsing History, 
click Delete. In Firefox, choose Tools, 
Clear Recent History. In Google 
Chrome, hit the customize icon, 
choose History and Clear All History. 

Pare down bookmarks 

Limit yourself to 20 or so book- 
marks. If you have many more, 
delete the least important ones by 
going to the Bookmarks menu and 
(in Firefox) choose Show All 
Bookmarks. When that list ^^ 
opens, select and copy all. 
Then paste them into a I 

Word file and save it (say, I 
as bookmarks. doe) so you 
always have them. Back in 
Firefox, delete as many 
bookmarks as you want. 
With other browsers, this I 
may be slightly different. I 

Trim toolbars The toolbar at the 
top of your browser window 
that offers options such as back or 
forward can slow down your surfing. 
If you don't use a tool several 
times a day, delete it. In Firefox, 
go to Tools, Add-ons, and Disable 
Toolbars. In Internet Explorer, click 
Toolbars on the View menu, then 
clear the check box for the tools 
you want to delete. 

Sources: techtips.salon.com, yahoo.com, RD editors 




Sharing intimate details about your children on 
social media. The practice can begin before birth 
with ultrasound images posted to Facebookand 
extend to faux first-person Twitter feeds sure to 
cause adolescent embarrassment. source: wired 








READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a d e r s d i g e st . c o . i n 






Three of a Kind 

Each set of words 
below has something 
in common. Can you 
think of the link? 


Example: Hurricane, camera, needle (answer: eyes) 

1. Barber 



2. Bowling alley 


Wrestling match 

3. Telephone 

Deck of cards 

Car trunk 


4. Fishing rod 


Checkout counter 


5. Watermelon 

Tennis tournament 


6. Pelican 


Person in debt 

7. Pie 




8. Bicycle 

Shopping mall 



9. Archer 


Gift package 

i^ i-7 

Loaf HH 



11. Curtain 


Nuclear reactor 

12. Computer 

Party spread 

Poker game 



13. Earliest 

Good over 


14. Dentist 

Oil field 

Army camp 

f x 

15. Radar 


Basketball game 


•suaajDS *Si s||up 'fri uapjew *£i sdjip *zi spoj *u ipuajj *oi SMoq '6 
suieip *8 s||ai|s 'L S||iq '9 spaas 'S sau;| 'fr s>pe[ •£ suid 'z sqwoD *i :sjomsuv 

reader's digest February 2013 readersdigest.co.in 


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Reminiscent of his days as a young fine-arts student in Pune, this canvas is part 
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the mishmash of lines and the tarot cards represent a chaotic, fateful world 

while the luminous sphere he holds signifies the creative energy that steadfastly 

cuts through all the chaos. The female image behind the fish bowl symbolizes 

a college crush. See more works at www.pinterest.com/yamgar 


READER'S DIGEST FEBRUARY 2013 r e a de r s d ige s t . c o . / n 


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Be it the skillful carvings of Lord Buddha 

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